The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted a few days ago to advance a proposal to deny President Joe Biden and other politicians Holy Communion because of their support for abortion rights.
The idea is part of proposed guidance for the church to create “eucharistic consistency.”
Professor Kurt Martens, who specializes in canon law at Catholic University, said the term is central and all encompassing. It cannot cherry-pick one issue or person.
"Issues such as the death penalty, social teaching and whatnot should also come into play," Martens said.
The policy would have to be formally drafted, debated and then voted on by the conference of bishops, but there are already deeply held opinions among local Catholics.
“I think it's probably misguided. I think it's largely a political move by these group of bishops,” Francis Tirol, a Catholic resident, said.
One family’s reluctance to speak on camera spoke to how sensitive and even volatile the issue is.
They said they didn’t think the President was behaving as a true Catholic with his positions, given the principles of the Eucharist.
The matter has been a point of contention among Catholic leaders since Biden was elected.
“That's a private matter and I don’t think that’s going to happen," the President said.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, said in November of 2020 that he would not deny the president the Holy Eucharist, hoping instead for dialogue.
"And I think probably that’s the better way to go, because dialogue is always better than coming down hard with a closure on someone,” Martens said.
Ultimately, the Vatican would get the last say. Pope Francis has cautioned Catholic bishops against using Communion as a political tool.
The conference of bishops could vote on the issue at a meeting in November.