The bishops will vote on the document when they meet for a conference in Baltimore this week. A committee wrote the document in the wake of the bishops’ June meeting, where they debated whether to take a stand on the eligibility of prominent Catholics whose actions run afoul of church teaching to get Communion.
In September, Bishop Kevin Rhoades, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Doctrine, announced that the document would remind Catholics of the value of the sacrament, though he did not say whether it would describe who should be considered worthy of getting Communion.
A draft of the document obtained by the Catholic newsletter The Pillar states that “people who exercise some form of public authority have a special responsibility to embody the church.” It continues that Catholics who live in a state of “mortal sin” without repentance should not receive Communion, though it does not say who should sit in judgment.
The vote will come after Biden met with Pope Francis at the Vatican last month and later told reporters that the pope had announced he was a “good Catholic” who may get Communion.
Pope Francis had previously stated that bishops should use “compassion and tenderness” with Catholic politicians who back abortion rights.
“Communion is not a prize for the perfect. . . . Communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his Church,” the pope stated.
At the meeting in June, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone asked how the bishops can “expect to be taken seriously” if they do not “act courageously, clearly and convincingly on this core Catholic value,” the Washington Post reported.
Cordileone, who is Pelosi’s archbishop, has announced that priests should deny Communion to Catholic public figures who back abortion rights.
San Diego archbishop Robert McElroy claimed that the proposal could make receiving the Eucharist a partisan activity.
“The Eucharist itself will be a tool in vicious partisan turmoil. It will be impossible to prevent its weaponization, even if everyone wants to do so,” McElroy stated. “Once we legitimize public-policy-based exclusion . . . we’ll invite all political animosity into the heart of the Eucharistic celebration.”
At the time, a reporter asked Biden about the possibility that he would be disqualified from receiving Communion over his stance on abortion. The president replied, “That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen.”