U.S. Bishops May Urge Joe Biden to Be Barred from Communion Due to His Support for Abortion

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Sean Neumann
·3 min read
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JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden attend Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., in January

Catholic bishops will consider banning President Joe Biden from receiving communion at an upcoming conference in June, according to a new report.

The Associated Press reported on Thursday that religious leaders at the annual U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June will vote whether to make the bishop group's official stance that Biden, 78 — and other politicians — should not receive communion because he supports allowing women to decide if they want an abortion.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann — a Kansas City, Kansas bishop who is the chairman of the group's Committee on Pro-Life Activities — told the AP that Biden's stance on abortion is "a grave moral evil."

Biden is the second Catholic to ever become U.S. president, following the late President John F. Kennedy.

Because Biden presents himself as a practicing Catholic, Naumann told the AP that "it can create confusion" for members of the church on what to believe.

"How can he say he's a devout Catholic and he's doing these things that are contrary to the church's teaching?" Naumann asked.

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Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty From left to right: Joe Biden and Pope Francis

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Biden routinely attends church services on most weekends and on anniversaries to mark key emotional moments, including his son Beau Biden's 2015 death from brain cancer.

The president attended church before he was sworn into office last January and has since attended Sunday services in Washington, D.C., and during weekend trips to his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware.

Whether the bishops vote in favor or against making their official stance against Biden receiving communion, individual bishops would still be able to decide for themselves who can or cannot receive the Catholic eucharist.

Meaning, Biden would still likely receive communion when he attends mass at his regular churches.

However, the vote underscores the controversy surrounding Biden's religious beliefs and his political views, while it also underscores a push for the Catholic church to become more progressive in recent years.

Pope Francis, who has enjoyed a friendship with Biden since he was the vice president, has previously voiced support for efforts to battle climate change and for same-sex civil unions (although, the Vatican said last month it would not "bless" same-sex marriages.)

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty From left: Doug Emhoff, Kamala Harris, Joe Biden and Jill Biden attend a virtual prayer service at the White House in January

Since taking office, the Biden administration has taken action to help pave the way for women to more easily receive an abortion under law.

In March, Biden reversed a Donald Trump-era policy that stopped organizations like Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding. Biden also made it possible for women to receive an abortion pill without having to go to an in-person doctor's visit, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Although the bishops' vote is expected to pass, not every religious leader in the church is in favor of it.

Bishop John Stowe, from Lexington, Kentucky, told the AP that the decision would further contribute "to the polarization of the church and of society," while San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy also questioned the push to ban politicians who support abortion rights from receiving communion.

"I do not see how depriving the president or other political leaders of the Eucharist based on their public policy stance can be interpreted in our society as anything other than a weaponization of the Eucharist," McElroy said, adding that the new policy, if passed, would be used "to pummel them into submission."