Ahead of the next annual meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, there remains intense division between individual members of the conference over whether or not to formally condemn Democratic politicians, including Joe Biden, over their support for abortion, according to Politico.
With the conference set to take place from Monday, November 15th, to Thursday, November 18th, the primary debate among members of the Conference’s Committee on Doctrine is whether or not to issue a formal statement denying Biden and other allegedly Catholic politicians from partaking in Communion.
A rough draft has circulated of one proposed agenda item, a “teaching document” which only vaguely hints at the controversy. The document mentions abortion only once, and although it does not mention Biden, or any other politician, by name, it does state that “lay people who exercise some form of public authority have a special responsibility to embody Church teaching.” It is possible that the resolution could undergo revisions during the conference, which may either strengthen or weaken its language.
Bishop Michael Olson of Fort Worth, Texas, a member of Doctrine Committee, has been an outspoken critic of Biden and his support for abortion.
“He’s gone on record as saying abortion is a fundamental right,” said Olson, “while presenting himself as an exemplary Catholic. The issue of public confusion is really at stake here.” However, Olson then admitted that he and the other committee members ultimately agreed to leave partisan politics out of the document.
With these and other ongoing internal divisions, it remains unlikely that any sort of concrete national policy will take shape on the matter. Any possible denial of Communion would thus be in the hands of individual priests who make that decision on their own. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, said that he would continue to let Biden partake in Communion; Bishop Thomas Tobin of Rhode Island has continued to criticize Biden, and publicly called for Pope Francis to confront Biden on the matter ahead of their meeting in Rome.
Reports indicated that the issue of abortion did not come up during their meeting, with Biden claiming that he and the Pope “talked about the fact that he was happy that I was a good Catholic, and I should keep receiving Communion.”