This week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will convene to debate whether President Biden and other Catholic politicians who support access to abortion should be denied Communion for their beliefs on abortion rights.
Biden, a devout Catholic, has been denied Communion before for his position on abortion rights. As the first Catholic president since John F. Kennedy, Biden’s support for abortion has caused conflict within the Catholic Church and raised questions about the politicization of church practices.
Just weeks ago, President Biden released his 2022 federal budget, which notably does not include the Hyde Amendment. This amendment, adopted in 1976, prevents federal funds from being used for abortion. It bans the use of Medicaid to fund abortion, except for cases of rape, incest, or life-threatening medical complications.
The controversial question of Communion eligibility surrounding this year’s USCCB annual meeting is influenced by recent debates among Catholic bishops regarding the importance of opposing abortion to the Catholic faith. Following the Trump administration, an increasing number of conservative Catholic bishops have advocated to center anti-abortion beliefs as the church’s primary issue.
However, other Catholic officials argue that church practices should not be politicized, even regarding the issue of abortion. The Vatican, which vehemently condemns abortion, has asked U.S. Bishops not to deny Biden Communion for his views on abortion. “The concern of the Vatican is not to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon,” said Antonio Spadaro, a priest and ally of Pope Francis.
Abortion continues to be a contested issue among American Catholics, but according to the Pew Research Center, over half of Catholics in the U.S. agree that “abortion should be legal in all or most cases.”
The USCCB will be held this Wednesday through Friday.
Sources: The Washington Post 6/15/21; The New York Times 6/14/21; NPR 5/31/21; Feminist Majority Foundation 5/28/21; Pew Research Center 10/8/20