The bishop of San Diego on Monday accused “some bishops” of making the issue of abortion a “litmus test” for Catholic politicians during the Biden presidency.
With the inauguration of Joe Biden as just the second Catholic president in United States history, “some bishops want to recast the presence and tone of the conference in the public order,” said Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego at an online event on Monday.
These bishops, he said, “argue that abortion is not merely a ‘preeminent’ issue in Catholic Social Teaching, but rather constitutes the de facto litmus test for determining whether a Catholic public official is a faithful Catholic, and for determining whether the overall policy stances of non-Catholic officials can be considered morally legitimate.”
He added that “if adopted, such a position will reduce the common good to a single issue.”
Bishop McElroy spoke at an online event of Georgetown University’s Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life; the event focused on how new President Biden, the U.S. bishops, and Pope Francis might work to promote the teachings of the Church in public policy….
However, McElroy added, some bishops are advancing “an overall stance of confrontation” with the new president rather than the conference’s traditional strategy of “engagement, dialogue, and critique.”
In contrast to this confrontational approach, Pope Francis “has placed encounter, dialogue, honesty and collaboration at the heart of his approach to public conversation,” McElroy said, and is “unlikely to endorse” punitive actions such as withholding Communion from Biden because of his public abortion advocacy….
Under canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, some bishops have previously withheld Holy Communion from publicly pro-abortion politicians because of their “obstinate” support for the grave evil of legal abortion, in the face of admonishment.
However, other bishops — including Bishop William Malooly of Wilmington and Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. — have said recently or in the past that they would not withhold Holy Communion from a politician such as Biden.
As part of the USCCB’s “working group” on dealing with Biden, the group will be drafting a statement on “Eucharistic coherence” of Catholics who publicly oppose Church teaching on grave matters.
When asked by moderator Kim Daniels if teaching about “Eucharistic coherence” in the Biden presidency is a “good idea,” McElroy replied “No. I don’t think it’s a good idea.”
The matter of Communion for Catholic politicians is a pastoral concern, he said, and should be addressed by Biden’s bishops in D.C. and in his home diocese of Wilmington, Delaware.
“The conference has no pastoral relationship with President Biden,” he said.
“I do not see how depriving the president or other political leaders the Eucharist, based on their public policy stance, can be interpreted in our society as anything other than a weaponization of the Eucharist and an effort not to convince people by argument, and by dialogue and reason, but rather, to pummel them into submission on the issue [of abortion],” he said….
The above comes from a Feb. 1 story on the site of the Catholic News Agency.