US bishops to weigh whether Biden should receive communion

Associated Press/Steve Ruark

U.S. Roman Catholic Bishops are expected to discuss President Biden’s eligibility to receive communion during a conference this week as his political support for abortion contradicts church teaching. 

The bishops intend to vote on a document that clarifies the definition of Holy Communion, a sacrament at the heart of the Catholic faith, during a conference in Baltimore scheduled for Nov. 15 through Nov. 18, according to Reuters

A committee drafted the document following a conference in June when bishops vowed not to create “a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians.”

Biden, who is the second Catholic U.S. president after John F. Kennedy, has said that he personally disagrees with abortion but supports a woman’s right to choose. 

Just last month, the Biden administration asked the Supreme Court to block a Texas law banning abortions after six weeks. The administration called the ban “plainly unconstitutional” in its legal challenge.

The issue has divided Catholics as well as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A Pew Research survey conducted in April showed that 43 percent of Catholics thought abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, compared to 39 percent of the general population who held that belief. 

During his trip to Rome last month, President Biden said Pope Francis described him as a “good Catholic,” adding that abortion did not come up with the pontiff.  

“We just talked about the fact that he was happy that I was a good Catholic and … keep receiving communion,” Biden said.

Ahead of his meeting with Biden, Reuters reported that the pope criticized the U.S. bishops who were politicizing the issue.

“Communion is not a prize for the perfect. … Communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his Church,” Pope Francis said, per the news service. 

He also noted that the bishops should exercise “compassion and tenderness” with Catholic political figures who support abortion.

The Hill has reached out to The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for comment.

Tags Abortion communion Joe Biden Pope Francis U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

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