Other bishops, such as Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, have said that the Eucharist should not be denied to pro-abortion Catholic public officials. At an online panel in February, McElroy warned that some bishops were seeking to make abortion a “litmus test” for Catholic officials, and said attempts to deny them Communion would be seen as a “weaponization” of the Eucharist.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington has already said he would not deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians. While Biden’s previous bishop in Wilmington, Bishop Francis Malooly, did not deny him Communion in the diocese, the new Bishop of Wilmington has not made a public statement on the matter.
Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion."
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a 2004 memo to U.S. bishops as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated that Catholic public officials who publicly campaign for permissive abortion laws should be instructed by their pastor not to present themselves for Communion unless they stop promoting such laws. If they continue to do so despite the warnings of their pastor, and if they present themselves for Communion, the minister must deny them Communion, Ratzinger noted.
Before Biden’s visit, the White House on Wednesday said that Pope Francis “has spoken differently” than Biden on the topic of abortion.
Biden promised a “whole-of-government” effort to maintain abortion in Texas after the state’s law restricting most abortions went into effect in September. His administration is currently opposing Texas’ law at the Supreme Court, and has also fought in court to keep in place the “transgender mandate,” a requirement that doctors perform gender-transitioning procedures upon the referral of a mental health professional.
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.