Wednesday, June 23, 2021

The USCCB, Abortion, and the Eucharist

 The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has been in the news lately because of a document they voted to draft on the Eucharist — specifically because it will call a lot of attention to President Biden. He's got a determinedly pro-abortion stance while still regularly attending Mass and taking Communion. 

A couple of pieces on this caught my eye and I thought you might be interested too.

GetReligion, which is excellent for observing how the media covers religion, pointed out that although Joe Biden and Pope Francis are routinely lumped together as being "liberal" (per the NY Times, etc.) so that it sounds as if they are in complete agreement, the Pope is consistent about abortion being gravely wrong. Here's a bit but read it all here.

Any short list of classic Pope Francis remarks about abortion would have to include the 2018 speech in which he asked, using a Mafia image: “Is it just to resort to a contract killer to solve a problem?”

There was more: “Interrupting a pregnancy is like eliminating someone. Getting rid of a human being is like resorting to a contract killer to solve a problem.” While some people support abortion rights, Francis added: “How can an act that suppresses innocent and defenseless life as it blossoms be therapeutic, civil or simply human?”

Or how about this quote, drawn from a 2020 address to the United Nations?

“Unfortunately, some countries and international institutions are also promoting abortion as one of the so-called ‘essential services’ provided in the humanitarian response to the pandemic. … It is troubling to see how simple and convenient it has become for some to deny the existence of a human life as a solution to problems that can and must be solved for both the mother and her unborn child.”

While there is no question that Pope Francis is a progressive on many issues linked to economics, immigration and other political topics, he has continued — sometimes in blunt language involving evil and the demonic — to defend the basics of Catholic moral theology.
Ed Condon over at Pillar Catholic News, which I've begun reading and like a lot, has a good point about what might be needed before a Eucharistic document can really be taken in properly. How about reminding us Catholics that sin is real and has consequences for our souls? Which made me begin praying harder for Joe Biden because with great power comes great responsibility for moral choices in our nation. Here's a bit but read it all here.
During this past week’s debate, many bishops spoke about the context of sin and reception of Communion. Several of them were at pains to emphasize that “we are all sinners” and “no one is worthy” to receive the sacrament. This is true, to a point, and the reason why penitential rites are a central part of the Eucharistic liturgy.

But the Church, like any reasonable parent, makes clear distinctions between kinds of wrongdoing. A child sneaking chocolate is in need of correction, yes, but a child playing with fire needs a dramatic intervention to prevent graver harm.


Within the context of the conference’s discussion on Eucharistic coherence, the real problem, it seems, is not the number of pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion. It is the number of Catholics who don’t seem to acknowledge there’s actually such a thing as the state of grave sin, still less a terrible spiritual harm attached to it.

How to address this crisis may now become the elephant in the conference room at future USCCB meetings. One possible way forward, though, seems to suggest itself.

The bishops may find their efforts to revive belief in, and devotion to, the Eucharist prove a non-starter, unless Catholics can first be convinced why they need its salvific power. While a teaching document on the Eucharist is now being drafted, the bishops may find they need to first issue a similar document on sin and the sacrament of penance.

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