Democratic congressman blasts Catholic bishops as ‘hypocrites’ for trying to deny Biden communion

Biden has ‘totally ignored’ archbishops trying to find way to ‘discipline him’, theology professor says

Gustaf Kilander
Raleigh, NC
Saturday 19 June 2021 22:08 BST
Related video: U.S. Bishops Vote To Delay Controversial Communion Policy Debate
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Democratic California Representative Ted Lieu slammed the US Conference of Catholic Bishops after they overwhelmingly voted to advance an official statement indicating that President Joe Biden should be blocked from receiving communion because of his pro-choice abortion views.

Mr Lieu criticised the Bishops after 74 per cent of them voted in favour of drafting a “teaching document” on the Holy Eucharist that would describe the meaning of communion.

The statement will also say whether Mr Biden and other public figures should be admonished and denied communion because of their stance on abortion.

Mr Lieu, a catholic himself, said the Bishops were “hypocrites” and “nakedly partisan”. He pointed out that the Bishops didn’t go after Trump Attorney General Bill Barr for his stance in favour of the death penalty, a measure the church also opposes.

“Dear [US Conference of Catholic Bishops]: I’m Catholic and you are hypocrites. You did not tell Bill Barr, a Catholic, not to take communion when he expanded killing human beings with the death penalty,” Mr Lieu tweeted.

“You are being nakedly partisan and you should be ashamed. Another reason you are losing membership,” he added.

The communion issue will be voted on when the Bishops meet in November. But even if they vote to go ahead with the move, it would still require a green light from the Vatican, which is not likely to give its approval.

The Vatican has warned US Bishops that communion shouldn’t be used as a political weapon.

“The concern in the Vatican is not to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon,” Antonio Spadaro, a Jesuit priest and an ally of Pope Francis, told The New York Times.

Mr Biden is a devout, churchgoing Catholic, and is only the second US president of that faith, the first being John F Kennedy.

When asked about the debate within the church, Mr Biden told reporters on Friday: “That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s gonna happen.”

Villanova University theology professor Massimo Faggioli told The Washington Post: “If there are Catholic icons in this world and this country, they are Pope Francis and Joe Biden.”

“That is seen by some bishops as a threat because their position is much more marginal now,” he added.

Dr Faggioli told The Post that Mr Biden’s less traditional way of practising his religion has probably angered some church leaders partly because the president is Catholic in such a public way, showing that there are alternate ways of being practising the faith.

“What is remarkable is the archbishops in the last seven months since he was elected are really trying to find a way to discipline him,” Dr Faggioli told the paper. “And Joe Biden has totally ignored them.”

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