Catholic priests in the US now want to refuse Holy Communion to US President Joe Biden. A statement to that effect was approved Thursday by a divided Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The reason for this is his progressive view on the right to abortion.
168 bishops at the virtual meeting voted in favour, 55 voted against, 6 abstained. Many clerics resent the fact that Biden goes to church every Sunday and receives communion – an important part of Catholic teaching in which mass visitors receive a wafer – but continues to defend the right to abortion. Biden is only the second Catholic president of the US after John F. Kennedy.
Biden, a descendant of Irish Catholics, often speaks publicly about his faith and goes to mass almost every Sunday, but his support for abortion and same-sex marriage is contrary to church teaching, according to proponents of the document. Abortion, although legal in the US for 48 years, is and remains “unacceptable” to them. Providing clarity on this to all Catholics is “an obligation”, say some bishops.
Other progressive Catholics in the US may now also be denied communion, the controversial document says. Wilton Gregory, the cardinal of Washington DC, says his priests will not deny Biden the host. The White House has not yet responded. The matter will be discussed further at the next Episcopal Conference, which will be held in November.
The American Roman Catholic Church has seen its membership decline by nearly twenty percent over the past two decades. This came to the fore in a March poll by the authoritative Gallup. The main reason for this is the many abuse scandals involving priests. American Catholics were also found to be deeply divided on social issues internally. In 2021, 70 million Americans claim to be Catholic.
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