Published: Sat, June 19, 2021
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Biden's abortion views may be scolded by US bishops

Biden's abortion views may be scolded by US bishops

And it raises questions of how closely the bishops will be able to cooperate with the Biden administration on issues such as immigration and racial injustice.

The 168-55 vote to proceed, vehemently opposed by a minority of bishops amid impassioned debate during virtual meetings, came despite appeals from the Vatican for a more cautious and collegial approach. The organization Students for Life held rallies in seven cities on Thursday to urge the bishops to vote "yes". Supporters say a strong rebuke of Biden is needed because of his recent actions protecting and expanding abortion access, while opponents warn that in doing so they risk being perceived as a partisan force.

The conference's Committee on Doctrine is now expected to draft the document ahead of a November meeting when the bishops will review an amendable draft.

Ultimately, the document that was voted on this week will require the Vatican's approval, which is known as a "recognitio".

In 2019, a priest at a Catholic church in SC refused holy communion to Biden because of his stance on abortion.

The vote on the proposal - which advocates describe as a broad "teaching document" that does not overrule the right of individual bishops to decide questions of Communion denial for their own diocese - was the culmination of a years-long controversy that stretches from a SC church to the White House to the Vatican, with Catholic prelates giving voice to a range of opinions about whether politicians who back abortion rights should be denied the Eucharist.

Democrats have also mounted increasing pressure on Biden to take action in defense of abortion rights as Republicans, motivated by the defeat of Donald Trump by Biden and the shifting of both houses of Congress to nominal control by the Democrats, have rushed to introduce a wave of anti-abortion bills.

While the text of the proposal remains unwritten, a proposed outline (reported by America magazine) claimed it would "include the theological foundation for the Church's discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness the faith".

"It's a private matter and I don't think it will happen", the president said when asked at the White House on Friday. The president has said he personally opposes abortion but supports a woman's right to choose. Only the local bishop or the pope can determine who can and cannot receive the sacrament of Communion.

Still, some bishops said the document itself wouldn't be about one individual and reiterated that it wouldn't bar any one person from receiving Communion, since that is still left up to individual bishops under church law.

"The choice before us at this moment", Gregory said during Thursday's debate, "is either we pursue a path of strengthening unity among ourselves or settle for creating a document that will not bring unity but may very well further damage it". It cites a wide range of policy concerns, but abortion is also a priority.

The Vatican, meanwhile, has attempted to slow the USA bishops' drafting of the document. Tim Kaine, Virginia Democrat, support abortion measures, which goes against the church's teaching.

According to a Pew Research poll from 2019, about 56% of Catholics said they thought abortion should be legal in all or most cases. They added that the "weaponization" of communion for those who support the right to abortion is inconsistent.

A section within the document will specifically reprimand catholic politicians and public figures that disobey church teachings on abortion and other "core doctrine issues".

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