Last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to draft a document calling for leaders to deny communion to pro-choice politicians. It was, more than anything, a reaction to Joe Biden supporting abortion rights when it comes to public policy regardless of what he thinks about the topic personally.
As I wrote then, the move is extremely short-sighted and hypocritical. If the argument is that the Catholic Church explicitly opposes abortion, therefore Catholic politicians who believe otherwise shouldn’t receive the Eucharist, then why stop there? The Catholic Church opposes same-sex marriage, and birth control, and acknowledging the existence of trans people. Many Catholic Democrats feel otherwise. Yet those differences didn’t lead to an angry letter, much less a suggestion at a new (if unofficial) Church policy.
Many practicing Catholics who aren’t politicians oppose Church doctrine, too, in those regards. Why are they allowed to receive communion? At the very least, why are the 48% of U.S. Catholics who support abortion rights not being condemned by the bishops like Biden?
Or consider this: Former Attorney General Bill Barr, a practicing Catholic, promoted the death penalty when he worked under Donald Trump. That violates Catholic doctrine. These bishops never called for Church leaders to deny communion to Barr.
The bishops are nothing more than partisan hypocrites and their recent actions prove it.
When the Washington Post wrote about the conflict, they accurately pointed out that Biden is one of the most visibly religious leaders we’ve ever had:
Biden is arguably the most observant president in decades, and his faith is a core part of his identity. He rarely misses Mass. He crosses himself in public. He quotes scripture, he cites hymns and he clutches rosary beads ahead of key decisions.
The point is, to any reasonable observer, Biden is a devout Catholic. The headline calls him “deeply Catholic.” It’s only to these bishops that Biden is some sort of heretic who deserves to be punished.
Robert P. George, a Princeton professor and former chairman of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), echoed the bishops and took issue with that Post headline because he also doesn’t think Biden is truly Catholic.
One needn't be a conservative to be deeply Catholic. Dorothy Day and Oscar Romero were deeply Catholic. But the Wasington Post's claim that Joe Biden is "deeply Catholic" is absurd. If you reject key tenets of Catholic faith, then, whatever you are, you are not deeply Catholic.
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) June 19, 2021
“If you reject key tenets of Catholic faith, then, whatever you are, you are not deeply Catholic.”
By that logic, the majority of the U.S. Catholic Church should also be told that they’re not truly devout because most of them oppose key tenets of the faith too. Unless they oppose marriage equality and want to force women to give birth against their will, the Catholic Church should make it clear they don’t deserve communion — and every priest should make it clear that their donations aren’t welcome either.
That will never happen. There’s no way the Church is giving up cash over doctrinal differences.
The Church is a rotten institution that’s full of people who are often better than its leaders. It’s the reason so many Catholics remain in the Church even as we learn more about the child sexual abuse scandals and even as the body count of the Church’s victims increases. They believed their leaders are flawed but the institution is worth protecting. If George got his way, though, those critics of the Church and Church dogma would never be considered True Catholics™.
Child raping priests? They can get communion.
A Catholic president who thinks women should have control over their own bodies? No communion.
It’s also absurd to make this argument because Biden has said he opposes abortion rights on a personal level! In other words, he is “devout” even by George’s standards! But because Biden understands that we don’t live in a theocracy, he’s not trying to impose his religious views on the rest of the country. And for that, these Catholic bishops want to punish him. It’s such an idiotic move on their part.
Even under Catholic rules, communion “is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners,” as Pope Francis said earlier this month. It’s not a carrot stick priests get to dangle in front of worshipers; it’s something worshipers receive because they want to be united under Christ.
The Catholic Church should be grateful they have anyone in the pews at all, given the harm they’ve caused in the world. If they want to institute a policy that public Catholics have to be all in on all Catholic doctrine or else they can’t receive communion, they should say it loud and clear so that non-politicians can take the hint and leave.
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