giovedì 18 novembre 2021

Stati Uniti
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approves Communion document without singling out politicians who back abortion rights

(Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post)
  U.S. Catholic bishops Wednesday avoided an internal standoff, approving a statement about Communion that was launched as a way to chastise President Biden over his support of abortion rights but after an outcry became a general restating of the sacrament’s centrality.
By a vote of 201 in favor, 17 opposed and five abstaining, hundreds of members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) at their annual fall meeting passed their first statement on Communion in 15 years. It comes as church leaders are trying to reignite Catholics’ interest in the rite that their faith says is a real connection with Jesus. Bishops at the meeting announced plans for a massive national gathering in 2024 dedicated to the Eucharist, or Communion.
The text called the Eucharist the most profound way God accompanies Catholics and called people back to church, saying “we miss you and we love you.” It also emphasized in the text the “special responsibility” of Catholic public figures to shape their own views based on “the Church’s faith and moral law.” It also said bishops are responsible “to work to remedy situations that involve public actions at variance with the visible communion of the Church and the moral law.”
But that’s as close as the document got to Biden, who on Wednesday was in Detroit to promote electric vehicles and his infrastructure bill.
The effort to craft the document started after Biden’s election, when the president of the USCCB launched a working group to deal with what he said was the “problem” of a church-going Catholic president who supports the current law on abortion access. While some bishops wanted the document to call out pro-choice Catholic politicians and abortion in particular, others said the sacrament was being politicized and damaged. The Vatican sent U.S. bishops a letter warning them that trying to pass a national policy about who receives communion could easily become a source of discord.
In the end, the document did not mention politicians who support abortion rights or single out abortion in particular.
“We saw initially a moment of different ideas of what the document should be about. Is it mostly about political responsibility? A Eucharistic revival? A teaching document? The document tried to nuance that,” said Bishop Daniel E. Flores, of Brownsville, Tex. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all. It’s not adjudicated by popular opinion. We have to be patient, and patient with one another. I think the bishops wanted to speak with patience with one another.”
Some said the mood at the five-day meeting was changed by more prayer. The bishops usually end their meeting with prayer but instead began it that way. They also had 24-7 “Eucharistic adoration,” which is when the Communion wafer and wine are displayed for prayer, and are attended to day and night.
While bishops were voting on other issues, including passing guidelines on socially responsible investing and picking new leaders for various committees, the most-watched effort by far has been their decision to write, debate and pass guidelines on Communion, the core rite of Catholic worship.
They passed the document after several failed efforts by bishops to amend it. Some wanted to emphasize more the importance of obedience, or of the scandal of public figures who depart from church teaching. Others wanted to explicitly add the poor and human trafficking victims to lists in the document of the vulnerable. The bishops moved along quickly and applauded at length after its passage.
President Biden on Oct. 29 said that he did not discuss abortion with Pope Francis and that the pope said that Biden should continue receiving Communion. (The Washington Post)
The bishops for years have been discussing how to revive and attract Catholics back to a deeper connection with the sacrament, but the effort took on focus when Biden was elected president. The USCCB’s president called for a special working group to consider how to address the image of a Catholic politician who supports abortion rights attending Mass and receiving Communion. The group suggested a document on Communion, along with more dialogue with Catholic politicians who support abortion rights and the current law on access.
The document is around 30 pages and is a broad teaching document mostly quoting canon law and papal teachings about Communion. It does not mention the president or any politician, nor does it single out abortion.
The document shows different views of bishops about how prominently to mention abortion, scandal, obedience and people’s private opinions as juxtaposed against traditional church teaching. It also beefs up how it characterizes the role of public figures. The Committee on Doctrine, which wrote the document, in recent months has been getting feedback from bishops around the country and tinkering with the draft.
An earlier draft, leaked this month, said: “Laypeople who exercise some form of authority have special responsibility to embody church teaching in their service of the common good. ” This had no citation to any church law or teaching and was simply stated.
The document that passed Wednesday says: “Laypeople who exercise some form of public authority have a special responsibility to form their consciences in accord with the Church’s faith and the moral law, and to serve the human family by upholding human life and dignity.”
It cites previous USCCB documents, including one in 2006 saying Catholics who “knowingly or obstinately” reject definitive church teachings are “not to be admitted” to Communion and should abstain from presenting themselves.
It also adds, without quoting from another source, a statement of Christians’ “responsibility to promote the life and dignity” of a list of “the most vulnerable”: the unborn, migrants and refugees, victims of racial injustice, the sick and the elderly.”
Some bishops were concerned the group had not in its own name, as opposed to quoting a pope or some other author, mentioned the unborn.
“To fail to acknowledge the category of human beings that represents the largest destruction of human life in our time would be a glaring omission. Moreover, for some of us, it would turn this document into a problem rather than a help,” wrote San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, one of the more outspoken conservative bishops.
His suggestion was accepted by the committee.