A Pew Research Center survey this year found that among U.S. Catholic adults, 67% say President Joe Biden should be allowed to receive Communion, while 29% say he shouldn't. Some divisions emerge among Catholics who identify with the Republican Party, with a slim majority (55%) saying Biden's abortion stance should disqualify him from receiving Communion, compared with just 11% who identify with the Democratic Party who say so.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is set to discuss Communion at its annual meeting in June, following an unusual declaration after the November presidential election that the bishops would form a working group chaired by Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron to "navigate" the "difficult and complex situation."
Jennifer Hughes, a religion historian at University of California Riverside, said the current debate reflects a rift "between your average Catholic and some of our very conservative Catholic leaders."
Hughes said American Catholicism has historically been more inclusive and progressive than the current leadership reflects. In practice, she said, the decision about when to receive or refrain from Communion is usually left up to individual lay Catholics. "They understand they may not be in compliance with all things, but they'll still receive (Communion) in order ... to try to enter into a relationship with God," she said.
Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine says that the U.S. bishops who are contemplating a declaration that some public officials are unworthy to receive Communion should recall that, by church doctrine, no one is worthy to receive Communion, even bishops.
After a Vatican warning to the U.S. bishops to proceed with caution in their plan to issue a document on pro-choice Catholic politicians, the prelates appear to have limited options for going forward.
In her latest column, Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister says that political morality is upside down, citing the Republicans' decision to vote Liz Cheney out of leadership for admitting that President Joe Biden won the election, not Donald Trump.
"Eighty percent of Republicans, the polls say, agree with Cheney's purge for telling that truth," Chittister writes. "So it's their lie now; not simply Trump's. It belongs to the people who are denying us the integrity we're looking for, and because of whom we know without a doubt now that we can't expect any integrity from them either."
Chittister says that it is one thing to have members of Congress disagree on which form of a policy will best solve a given problem.
"But to remove a national figure from leadership because they tell the truth simply tells us the truth we need to know about them: they will tell any lie necessary in order to get power and keep it under any circumstances," she adds. "Regardless of what happens to the country because they lie."
At Global Sisters Report, read about a network of Catholic sisters in Nigeria coordinating anti-trafficking efforts to help survivors and prevent others from being victimized.
ICYMI: Many Catholic dioceses and archdioceses across the country — which closed their parish doors for a time at the start of the pandemic last year and have gradually opened them to limited occupancy in the past year — are getting ready to fully reopen on the feast of Pentecost, May 23.