CV NEWS FEED // Vatican allies and conservative U.S. bishops are at loggerheads over the question of pro-abortion Catholic politicians presenting themselves for Communion, the New York Times reported Monday.
The Times’ report came under the headline “Vatican Warns U.S. Bishops: Don’t Deny Biden Communion Over Abortion,” suggesting a new, perhaps strongly worded statement from the Vatican.
Other outlets even took up the story as if reporting on a news event — including The Hill, which is influential in the nation’s capital.
Jason Horowitz’ Times writeup, however, was mostly in reference to events of a month ago or more.
Yet the purposes of airing the controversy are clear: the U.S. Bishops this week will debate whether to issue a teaching on how to properly receive Holy Communion.
Since the idea of such a document first appeared, a number of well-placed clergymen have kept up a sustained pressure campaign against it.
Among those opposed to including a vote on the matter at the Spring Assembly meeting are two liberal bishops, Cardinals Blase Cupich and Joseph Tobin, who have a history of lobbying the Vatican to rein in their brother bishops in the U.S.
Last month, the Vatican seemed to oblige them. As the Times reported:
[Pope Francis’] top doctrinal official, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, wrote a letter to the American bishops, warning them that the vote could “become a source of discord rather than unity within the episcopate and the larger church in the United States.”
The result is a rare, open rift between Rome and the American church.
As CatholicVote reported at the time, the letter from the Vatican was hailed and celebrated by Catholic promoters of abortion, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, who told reporters she was “pleased” by the statement, and that she could use her “own judgment” as to whether she would receive Communion.
Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco (Ms. Pelosi’s own bishop), publicly corrected her, and invited her to discuss the matter with him personally.
The Times report referred to Biden as a “faithful churchgoer,” and framed the possibility of the U.S. Bishops’ vote on the Communion question as a very dark, high-stakes affair in which the coherence of the Catholic Church hangs in the balance.
Despite “the remarkably public stop sign from Rome, the American bishops are pressing ahead anyway and are expected to force a debate on the communion issue at a remote meeting that starts on Wednesday,” Horowitz wrote. Some bishops “whose priorities clearly aligned with former President Donald J. Trump” are trying to “lay down a hard line” over abortion, he warned:
The vote threatens to shatter the facade of unity with Rome, highlight the political polarization within the American church and set what church historians consider a dangerous precedent for bishops’ conferences across the globe.
While some prelates, aided by Vatican insiders and now, clearly, the New York Times and other legacy media outlets, continue to pressure the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to give up the effort, USCCB President Archbishop José Gomez has said he is determined to see it through.
And rather than a political maneuvre, Gomez presents the vote this week as a simple promotion of clear Catholic teaching on the Eucharist, as well as on grave issues like abortion and euthanasia.