US bishops adopt document that may deny communion to President Biden for supporting abortion
President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, attend mass on his inauguration day, January 20, in Washington.Evan Vucci / AP

The Episcopal Conference of the United States announced this Friday its decision to draft a statement on the sacrament of communion that may involve denying the Eucharist to Joe Biden, the second Catholic president of the country, as well as other politicians of this confession, for supporting the right to abortion. The vote showed the division within the conference, where it was adopted by 168 votes to 55 against.

It is a didactic document on the Eucharist, approved after two hours of debate in the virtual assembly that the American bishops held this Thursday, and in which the prelates weighed the advisability of reaffirming the doctrine of the Church despite the risk of sowing the partisan division.

The debate has highlighted the existing cracks within the local Church, weighed down by a succession of sexual abuse scandals and the corresponding disaffection of the parishioners. A poll published in March by the Gallup institute showed that the membership of the Catholic Church has fallen by 20% in the last two decades, roughly the period in which sexual predator child abuse scandals have been known, which in many cases followed. active as priests despite knowledge of the facts by their superiors.

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The division in the ecclesiastical hierarchy about social issues towards which President Biden shows a liberal attitude – homosexual marriage, the equalization of rights of the LGTBI community, reversing Trump’s policies, or even the appointment of transsexuals to high positions in his Administration, such as Dr. Rachel Levine as Undersecretary of Health – has contributed to straining relations with the White House.

Although Biden has been careful to publicly reiterate his support for abortion since he arrived in the White House, his well-known stance on the matter has put him on the spot, despite being a practicing Catholic, of Sunday Mass and one of the most religious in The last decades. The Holy See saw in his election a great opportunity to improve relations with Washington, previously marked by hostility between the Pope and Trump, but Biden’s defense of the right to abortion is a stumbling block that helps to reveal the tidal wave of background of Catholicism in the United States, badly wounded by the damage that cases of abuse have left in its public image.

Bishops in favor of the counterclaim insisted on Thursday that the document does not refer to any particular politician, but Biden’s liberality of opinion repeatedly emerged in the debate, according to Reuters. The Democrat is the second Catholic president of the United States after John F. Kennedy, but the context has nothing to do with it since in the sixties these questions were out of the question. Biden’s defense of same-sex marriage – his transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, is married to a man; His strong support for the trans community in the Army and the right to interrupt pregnancy have alarmed many bishops as being antithetical to the doctrine of the Church.

Some of the prelates who defend the wording of the text argued that they felt obliged, as representatives of the Church, to clarify to the faithful the teachings of this “for all Catholics” in view of the contradiction in the faith and actions of officials and public representatives like Biden. The White House has not ruled on the matter, since this Friday is a public holiday throughout the country.

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