Canon 915 and 916 are clear, but leave it up to the U.S. Bishops to obfuscate the issue when it comes to giving Holy Communion to Catholic politician who support abortion.
The most hotly anticipated moment might be when a committee that has been asked to take a fresh look at the practice of Holy Communion presents a polished version of a document it’s been working for a year and a half.
Some in the church have wondered whether it will take a stance on the question of Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, such as Biden and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But, according to Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the document as it stands spurns politics in favor of striking an uplifting, pastoral tone.
“This document will not take up the question of [whether politicians should be given communion],” said Lori, who served as a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine, which wrote the report. “It does speak about the question of worthiness to receive Holy Communion. It simply speaks to what all of us should know and reflect on before we receive Holy Communion.”
The rite, also known as the Eucharist, calls for Catholics to consume bread and wine that has been blessed by a priest. Unlike other denominations, the Catholic Church considers the bread and wine to have been transformed into the body and blood of Christ.
However, a survey of U.S. Catholics conducted by the Pew Center for Research in 2019 found that only 30% embrace the belief that the Eucharist contains Christ’s blood and body. Lori said the church takes such findings seriously and that the statistics reflect a range of larger challenges, from a decline in church attendance over the years to an “erosion of belief” that lies behind it.
The worldwide church is embarking on multiyear “eucharistic revival project,” he said, and the U.S. bishops decided they could contribute by writing a document that views the rite — the most important of the church’s seven sacraments — through fresh eyes. That, he says, calls not for a political statement, but for “pointing out some of the truths about the Eucharist that are especially timely,” including how it “puts us in touch with Christ’s redemptive sacrifice of love.”
When the document is presented, Lori said, the bishops will have an opportunity to amend it. They could submit suggested changes to the committee, which could then bring them to the full body for a vote. Still, he expects the group to find a “middle way.”
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