Nearly 60 House Democrats call on Catholic bishops to stop targeting abortion supporters in communion conflict

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Nearly 60 House Democrats are calling on Catholic bishops to stop “arming” Holy Communion and urging them to stop targeting Democrats who support abortion as unworthy of the sacred sacrament of the Eucharist.

Catholic Democrats on Friday released “statement of principle” clearly targeting the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for voting this week to draft a formal document on the meaning of the Eucharist that should rebuke Catholic politicians and other public figures who disobey Church teaching on abortion and other fundamental beliefs .

“We solemnly urge you not to go ahead and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and summit of all the work of the gospel, on one question,” the lawmakers wrote in a statement.

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The new communion document is not yet finalized and at least two-thirds of bishops are expected to vote to adopt the language at their next meeting scheduled for November. While the bishops said the document did not target a single individual, Friday’s vote announcement came amid a controversial debate over whether Joe Biden and other politicians who support abortion policies, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are worthy of Communion at Mass.

Democrats suggest they are being targeted for the issue of abortion alone while Republicans who support the death penalty, which is also against the church’s pro-life teachings, are not under fire.

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“The sacrament of Holy Communion is at the heart of the lives of practicing Catholics, and the militarization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support for a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory,” said writes House Democrats.

“No elected official has been threatened with being refused the Eucharist because they support and have supported policies contrary to the teachings of the Church, in particular by supporting the death penalty, by separating migrant children from their parents, by refusing asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance to those suffering from hunger and food insecurity, and denial of rights and dignity to immigrants.

Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut and chair of the House Appropriations Committee, speaks during a press conference at the United States Capitol in Washington, DC, United States, Wednesday, May 19, 2021. DeLauro calls on the bishops Catholics not to deny Communion to pro-choice Democrats. Photographer: Al Drago / Bloomberg via Getty Images
(Getty Images)

A total of 59 Democrats joined the statement hosted by Representatives Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Sylvia Garcia of Texas and Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania. Co-signers ranged from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who sits on the far left of the party, to Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, who is one of the most conservative Democrats in the House. California Representative Ted Lieu also signed a tirade on Twitter against Catholic bishops this weekend.

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Democrats highlighted how basic Catholic principles, like helping the underprivileged, influenced their policies for universal health care, tackling child poverty and more. They stressed the separation between church and state and acknowledged that some of their policies also thwarted the Catholic Church.

“We recognize and accept the tension that comes from disagreeing with the Church in certain areas,” the lawmakers wrote. “We recognize that no political party is fully in accord with all aspects of Church doctrine. This fact speaks to the secular nature of American democracy, not to the dedication of our democratically elected leaders. “

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Democrats have suggested that the role of the Catholic Church is not only to accept the pure, but also to welcome sinners. Lawmakers reminded bishops of the words of Pope Francis who previously wrote that the Eucharist “is not a price for the perfect but a powerful medicine and food for the weak”.

“To continue a general denial of the Holy Eucharist to certain elected officials would indeed sadden the Holy Spirit and would deny the evolution of this individual, a Christian person who is never perfect, but who lives in the struggle to get there”, have writes lawmakers.

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