In an expected but still idiotic move, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted 168-55 in favor of drafting a document that would effectively deny communion to Catholic Democrats and other politicians who support abortion rights.
It wouldn’t be a law, even within the Church. The draft won’t even mention Joe Biden or anyone else by name. But it would likely say that Catholics who openly reject the Church’s teachings on abortion — *wink wink* politicians — should refrain from receiving the Eucharist. But it’s not like there would be penalties for bishops or individuals who reject the advice.
The vote came after a 3½-hour-long emotional discussion Thursday at the annual spring meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Multiple bishops clashed over how, or if, they should single out the church’s teaching on abortion.
A document that so elevates the sinfulness of an abortion policy — not a personal viewpoint, as Biden says he personally accepts the church’s teaching on the topic — [San Diego Archbishop Robert] McElroy argued, would fatally undermine the bishops’ ability to speak on other things, “including the condemnation of poverty, racism and environmental destruction.”
Ultimately, this entire issue revolves around a suggestion. It also appears that plenty of bishops have no intention of following it, so it’s a lot of discussion over something that could be toothless. Still, the idea that pro-choice Catholics need to be sanctioned in some way is almost laughable when you consider how many Catholics disagree with Church doctrine on this matter and who’s creating the policy.
The leaders of the Catholic Church, an organization that facilitates child sex abuse, have no real credibility when it comes to matters of morality. But even if priests accepted their proposed suggestions, consider what it would mean: 48% of Catholics in the U.S. support abortion rights. Are they all going to be purged? At some point, you have to think the Church’s unwavering commitment to controlling women’s bodies will only push more young people away.
A concern over hypocrisy would be equally silly. Plenty of Catholics and Catholic politicians support same-sex marriage; is the Church going to punish them, too, or will they only go after those who support women’s rights? Which “sins” are permitted, and why is abortion worse than everything else?
All of this is especially pointless when you consider that Biden has repeatedly said he’s against abortion privately, just not when it comes to public policy. So by the Church’s own standards, Biden should be eligible for communion, not discouraged from taking it.
It’s so bizarre that this is the hill so many bishops are choosing to die on. If they really wanted to punish people who violated Catholic principles, they should be looking in the other direction of the hierarchy.
Jamie L. Manson, president of the group Catholics for Choice, said in a press release that passing this policy would be needlessly divisive, not to mention hypocritical:
We are profoundly saddened that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has chosen to continue its unholy crusade against President Biden and other pro-choice Catholics, despite the objections of many of their own members, the Vatican, and the overwhelming majority of the people in the pews. To use the Eucharist — the Body of Christ and the central unifying ritual of our church — as a weapon of punishment is a grotesque and reprehensible betrayal of the power of the Sacraments.
And, of course, while all of this revolves around a sacrament that’s important to Catholics, it’s ultimately a controversy about whether priests can put what they truly believe is a literal piece of Jesus’ body in the mouths of strangers via a tasteless wafer. We can’t ignore the utter bizarreness of a ritual just because it comes from a familiar religious practice.
For a Church that’s driving away members regularly, a move to punish pro-choice Catholics would only lead to more people leaving Catholicism for good.
So at least there’s a silver lining to all this.
(Image via Shutterstock. Large portions of this article were published earlier)