- Catholic archbishops will discuss denying President Joe Biden Communion for his abortion stances in June, but until then, most of them are staying quiet on the issue.
- The Daily Caller News Foundation asked all U.S. archbishops whether they would deny the president Communion. Most did not respond, despite repeated requests for comment, and five archbishops declined to comment on the matter.
- Archbishops Salvatore Cordileone and Samuel Aquila said that they would first engage in conversations with a high profile individual who persisted in publicly supporting abortion, and then ultimately ask the individual to refrain from Communion.
Catholic archbishops will discuss denying President Joe Biden Communion over his abortion stances in June, but until then, most of them are staying quiet on the matter.
The Associated Press reported in late April that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will hold a national meeting in June where the bishops will decide whether to tell the president, and other high profile Catholic politicians like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, not to receive Communion at Mass if they continue to publicly advocate for abortion.
In an early May letter, the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Luis Ladaria warned the archbishops to approach public discussion of the matter with caution.
Any new policy “requires that dialogue occurs in two stages: first among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions,” Ladaria wrote, according to the Catholic News Service.
The Daily Caller News Foundation asked all U.S. archbishops whether they would deny the president Communion. Most did not respond, despite repeated requests for comment, and five archbishops said they would not comment at this time.
It is a question that not all Catholic clergy agree on, though the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is “a crime against human life,” “constitutes a grave offense” and that a person who obtains an abortion is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
Washington, D.C., Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who did not respond to requests for comment from the DCNF, said in late November that he would not deny Biden Communion. The archbishop noted that Biden went to Mass and received Communion while he served as former President Barack Obama’s vice president.
“I’m not going to veer from that,” he said in an interview with America Magazine.
But other archbishops have frankly said that if Biden persists in his support for abortion, they would ultimately ask him to refrain from Communion.
Earlier this month, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone warned pro-abortion Catholic public figures not to receive Communion at Mass if they find that they “are unwilling or unable to abandon” their “advocacy for abortion.” The archbishop told the DCNF in an interview that clergy should first have conversations with high profile pro-abortion politicians like Biden before denying them Holy Communion.
“In the case of President Biden or any other prominent Catholic, I think what I would do is if I knew that they were coming into the area here and planned to attend Mass, I would try to have those conversations as well ahead of time,” he said.
“If we don’t say anything, if we don’t speak out, then we are also culpable,” Cordileone told the DCNF. “I tremble at the responsibility that God has given me … When it comes to pastoral application of church teaching, that’s where pastoral discretion is needed, different judgements might be made by different bishops in different situations.”
“But in the case of someone so prominent as the president of the United States, again this is a scandal, and it’s causing confusion in the minds of our Catholics,” he said.
Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver, Colorado, similarly said that bishops should first have private conversations with the individual.
“In responding to individual situations, it is important for bishops to follow the steps presented by Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel, that is, have a private conversation with the person, if the person persists, have another conversation with two or three people present as witnesses, and finally, if the person still persists, then ask the person to refrain from Communion,” Aquila said in a statement.
The statement was previously provided to the Associated Press, his director of public relations told the DCNF, but the AP does not appear to have printed it.
“Charity demands that we help people understand the truth of who they are receiving in Eucharist and that they need to be properly prepared and in a state of grace,” the archbishop continued.
Shortly after Biden’s inauguration, USCCB President and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez warned Americans in a lengthy statement that “we cannot stay silent” on the president’s pro-abortion stances.
Gomez, who declined to comment to the DCNF through the USCCB, highlighted that Biden has promised to pursue policy “that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity” — most notably in regards to abortion, marriage, gender and contraception.
“Abortion is a direct attack on life that also wounds the woman and undermines the family,” Gomez wrote in January. “It is not only a private matter, it raises troubling and fundamental questions of fraternity, solidarity, and inclusion in the human community.”
Gomez expressed the hope that Biden would work with the Catholic Church to better understand these issues and to engage in a “dialogue to address the complicated cultural and economic factors that are driving abortion and discouraging families.”
The Vatican Secretariat of State reportedly intervened before Gomez’s statement could be released so that Pope Francis could first release his statement, according to Catholic news website the Pillar. The pope’s statement made no direct mention of abortion but urged Biden to respect the “rights and dignity of every person,” including those who “have no voice.”
The Vatican did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the DCNF.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, who is the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, also declined to comment for this story through the USCCB. But the archbishop condemned Biden’s abortion stances in a Jan. 22 statement, “strongly” urging the new Catholic president to reject abortion.
“It is deeply disturbing and tragic that any President would praise and commit to codifying a Supreme Court ruling that denies unborn children their most basic human and civil right, the right to life, under the euphemistic disguise of a health service,” Naumann said.
He continued: “I take this opportunity to remind all Catholics that the Catechism states, ‘Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.’ Public officials are responsible for not only their personal beliefs, but also the effects of their public actions.”
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