Friday, June 18, 2021

Catholic Members of U.S. House Confront Bishops Over Possible Denial of Communion To Pro-Choice Democrats

As reported by CNN, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops today voted 168-55 with 6 abstentions to direct its Committee on Doctrine to draft a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.  Conservative bishops want to deny communion to public officials, including President Biden, who support abortion rights.

In response to these developments, today 60 Catholic Democratic members of the House of Representatives issued a Statement of Principles which reads in part:

We envision a world in which every child belongs to a loving family and agree with the Catholic Church about the value of human life. Each of us is committed to reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and creating an environment with policies that encourage pregnancies to be carried to term and provide resources to raise healthy and secure children. We believe this includes promoting alternatives to abortion, such as adoption, improving access to children's healthcare and child care, and creating a child benefit through the expanded and improved Child Tax Credit.

In all these issues, we seek the Church's guidance and assistance but believe also in the primacy of conscience.... [W]e acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas. We recognize that no political party is perfectly in accord with all aspects of Church doctrine. This fact speaks to the secular nature of American democracy, not the devotion of our democratically elected leaders. Yet we believe we can speak to the fundamental issues that unite us as Catholics and lend our voices to changing the political debate ... that often fails to reflect ... the depth and complexity of these issues....

We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents. The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory. No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants.

We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments ... over one issue....