A new document, drafted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, will likely raise the issue once again about whether pro-abortion politicians, as well as those in favor of cloning and embryonic stem-cell research, should receive Communion.
The U.S. bishops will vote on the document during their annual November meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 13-16.
The proposed document, Happy Are Those Who Are Called to His Supper: On Preparing to Receive Christ Worthily, is not intended to be a technical document for bishops, pastors, or ministers. Rather, it is addressed to all the faithful and designed to help Catholics properly prepare to receive Communion.
The statement says Catholics should refrain from Communion when they do not adhere to what the Church teaches on matters of faith and morals or when a person is publicly known to have committed serious sin.
Organized as a series of questions and answers, the statement addresses what the Catholic Church believes about the Eucharist, who may receive Communion, and how Catholics can prepare to receive the sacrament more worthily.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life” that brings the faithful into communion with Christ and as a community of believers.
The statement says Catholics should prepare to receive Communion by regular prayer and scripture reading, the sacrament of reconciliation, fasting, wearing modest dress to church, and coming to Mass in a prayerful state of mind.
It reiterates Church teaching that, with few exceptions, only Catholics may receive Communion at a Catholic Mass.
Catholics should refrain from the sacrament when they are not in a state of grace because of mortal sin, unless they receive the sacrament of reconciliation before the Eucharist.
In 2004, the USCCB concluded that each bishop would act independently in his own diocese with regard to pro-abortion politicians. According to CNA sources, many bishops hope this document will assist in establishing common practices for all U.S. bishops in regards to the distribution of Holy Communion to such politicians.