Jun 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.S. Catholic leaders say they aren't moving to deny Biden communion

Photo of Joe and Jill Biden praying in formalwear in a church pew
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden pray at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle. Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops quietly clarified this week that there will be "no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians" after some bishops had raised the issue.

Why it matters: A wave of controversy and debate occurred after the conference overwhelmingly voted to draft a "teaching document," which many hoped would rebuke Biden and other Catholic politicians for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights, per AP.

  • Four days after the vote, the USCCB released a Q&A without its previous references to Biden, a national policy or abortion.

What they're saying: "The document's central goal is to educate Catholics on the Eucharist," USCCB spokeswoman Chieko Noguchi told Axios. Bishops have grown increasingly concerned about the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful, she said.

  • "The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons," the Q&A states, adding that the Vatican is not involved. "The question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot."
  • The document will instead focus on calling all Catholics to "support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching."

For what it's worth: "That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen," Biden told reporters last week when asked about the vote.

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