Flouting a warning from the Vatican and Pope Francis, whose liberal leanings have angered many Catholic conservatives, a conclave of American Roman Catholic bishops has voted to advance a new rule that would push priests to deny communion to President Biden and other Democrats over their support for abortion rights.
In a decision made public on Friday afternoon, American bishops voted to draft a statement on the sacrament of the Eucharist, capping three days of contentious debate at a virtual June meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. The vote won with 73% in favor, to 24% opposed.
According to the NYT, President Biden is "the most religiously observant commander in chief since Jimmy Carter". Biden is known to attend Catholic mass weekly, and his children and other family members are also involved with the church (who can forget Hunter Biden referencing Catholic mass in some of those leaked text messages?)
Observant Catholics typically receive communion weekly at mass. Holy communion is one of the most sacred rituals of the Catholic church, and any Catholic who is permanently denied communion is effectively ex-communicated from the world's largest Christian church. The NYT added that the attempt to strip the country's second Catholic president of the right is a sign of "a uniquely American Catholicism increasingly at odds with Rome."
The paper continued: "Biden, like Pope Francis, embodies a liberal Christianity focused less on sexual politics and more on racial inequality, climate change and poverty."
The text of the statement hasn't yet been written. Once it's completed, it will require a two-thirds vote by the bishops to apply it in the US. In a proposed outline, reported earlier by America Magazine, the statement will call on bishops to "include the theological foundation for the Church’s discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness the faith.”
A vote isn't expected until November, right around the midterm elections. The NYT warned that this will equip conservative bishops with "a tool to criticize Democratic politicians throughout the campaign cycle".