U.S. bishops have been warned by the Vatican about a potential proposal to deny communion to Catholic elected officials who support allowing abortion.
NPR noted the possible plan could impact President Joe Biden, as well as other Catholic politicians.
A document that will be prepared for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by the Committee on Doctrine is at the heart of the issue, according to The Associated Press.
The document is aimed at clarifying the church’s stance on the issue. And it’s taken on new urgency now because Biden — only the second Catholic president — is the first to hold that office and favor abortion rights.
Specifically, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José Gomez, has informed the doctrinal office that U.S. bishops were preparing to put together a document dealing with “the situation of Catholics in public office who support legislation allowing abortion, euthanasia and other moral evils,” according to NPR.
But Catholic News Service reported that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has urged the U.S. bishops to proceed with caution in their discussions about formulating a national policy “to address the situation of Catholics in public office who support legislation allowing abortion.”
Cardinal Luis Ladaria reiterated what he has said before – that the development of a policy addressing the issue would require two stages of discussion. The first one would be among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions.
In a May 7 letter to Archbishop Gomez, Cardinal Ladaria also said such a policy cannot usurp the authority of an individual bishop in his diocese on the matter. He said the policy would require near unanimity.
And NPR noted U.S. bishops are split over the issue. Some of the conservative bishops, have called for Biden and other Catholic politicians who support abortions to be denied communion.
But Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington, D.C., has said he will not deny communion to Biden.
And he warned that if U.S. church leaders fail to reach a unanimous decision, a national policy, “given its contentious nature,” could become a source of discord within the American church.
Along with Biden, there are 158 Cathiolics in congress, most of them Democrats who favor abortion rights, and six Catholic Supreme Court justices, most of them anti-abortion Republicans, NPR said.
And The Associated Press noted that in the 20020 presidential election, Cathiolics split their votes almost evenly between Biden and Donald Trump.