In targeting America’s second Catholic president with a threat to deny Joe Biden the Eucharist over his abortion rights support, U.S. bishops risk deepening what is already a destructive rift among the nation’s Catholics. It also puts the bishops at odds with a president who is far more aligned than his political opponents are with the church’s humanitarian outlook — while also putting them at odds with Pope Francis. This is the kind of mistake that could make the church less politically and culturally relevant than ever in the U.S.
On Friday. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops announced it had approved a plan to draft guidelines for receiving communion. The conservative bishops who pushed the measure intend to use it to deny that holy sacrament to Catholic political leaders, including Biden, who don’t fall in line with the church’s stance of denying women’s right to access abortion.
Francis — who has allied himself with Biden on numerous issues including poverty relief, climate change and racial equality — warned the American bishops in a Vatican letter that a confrontation with Catholic politicians over abortion would “become a source of discord rather than unity.”