Press Review: Joe Biden and Francis on Abortion and Communion (2)

January 05, 2022
The USCCB meeting in Baltimore Cathedral

On October 29, 2021, Pope Francis granted a 75-minute audience to the President of the United States, Joe Biden. The lengthy interview with a politician who was notoriously pro-abortionist sparked a lot of reaction in the Italian press.

The Timidity of the American Bishops

On November 17, 2021, the long-awaited document by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) was released, titled: “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church.” But, as FSSPX.News of 29 November 2021 noted: “the text avoids any explicit reference to the question of whether bishops and priests should refuse communion to public figures who disagree with Catholic teaching on abortion and other moral issues.”

“Thus, as Cardinal Roger Mahony, Bishop Emeritus of Los Angeles and a ‘progressive’ prelate, foresaw, the text was mitigated and became ‘flat’ according to his expression. He added that it would soon be forgotten.

“With the document, the bishops approved a strategic plan for a three-year Eucharistic revival campaign, which will include the development of new educational materials, the training of diocesan and parish leaders, the launch of a website dedicated to renewal, and the deployment of a special team of 50 priests to preach on the Eucharist.”

“The campaign will culminate with a National Eucharistic Congress in July 2024 in Indianapolis. This convention will be the first of its kind in the United States for almost 50 years.”

Perhaps to excuse this timidity towards asserting Catholic rules on the refusal of Communion, the American bishops give some very general indications: “As the Church has always taught, a person who receives Holy Communion when he is in a state of mortal sin, not only does not receive the grace of the sacrament, but commits the sin of sacrilege by not showing the reverence due to the Body and Blood of Christ.”

And they add: “If a Catholic, in his personal or professional life, were to knowingly and obstinately reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately repudiate her definitive teaching on moral questions, in either case, he would seriously diminish his communion with the Church.”

Therefore, “the reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not be in accordance with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, and one should abstain.” - In short, it is better for pro-abortion politicians to abstain on their own, rather than a priest (or bishop) be required to deny them Communion.

The Duplicity of the Pope

It must be recognized that this lack of consistency on the part of the American bishops is encouraged in high places by the ambiguous attitude of Pope Francis. As the Argentine philosopher José Arturo Quarracino, a compatriot of the Pope and nephew of Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, his predecessor at the head of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, points out.

Marco Tosatti takes it up in his article titled The Vatican’s Schizophrenic Mercy in Abortion, on his blog Stilum Curiae on November 17. It reads: “The friendly, warm, and cheerful encounters of Pope Bergoglio in the Vatican with two of the greatest supporters and promoters of the prenatal genocide - Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden - a few days ago highlighted the schizophrenic attitude of the reigning pontiff on the question of abortion.”

“This dual attitude was noticeable from the start of Bergoglio's pontificate, but on the flight back from Bratislava to Rome last September, the personal ambiguity and confusion he sows on this issue became clear.”

“A coldly calculated ambiguity and confusion which allows him to make himself be seen as a genuine Christian - in theory - and at the same time as a supporter of abortion - in daily practice - and, above all, in the world of high politics—by skillfully manipulating meaningful language and gestures.”

And to specify the modus operandi of this duplicity: “On the one hand, our pontiff theoretically and doctrinally condemns abortion as it is defined by the Church, but in practice, he is happily siding with those who are, already at this stage, the promoters of the most appalling and repugnant genocide in history.”

“Not only with the two political figures mentioned above, but also with Hillary Clinton, Jeffrey Sachs, Ema Bonino, Evo Morales, Melinda Gates, John Boongarts, etc. In this way, he relativizes the promotion of prenatal homicide, which has become a global genocide; he diminishes the gravity of the crime, as one of its supporters so aptly put it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith:

‘Besides abortion, there are other issues that also concern the Church,’ such as the environment, poverty, immigration, etc. In other words, abortion is one question among many, and not the most important.”

Following, from the pen of José Arturo Quarracino, is a reflection on the terrible consequences of this ambiguous attitude: “With the American President, Pope Bergoglio has made it known that the Pontiff of the Church recognizes him as a ‘good Catholic’ and allows him to receive communion, despite his abortion fervor, in word and deed.”

“In this case, he leaves a promoter of abortion in communion with the Church: he does not correct the one who is manifestly in the process of sinning, but ‘opens his heart’ to him, ‘mercifully,’ as he likes to say.”

“Pope Bergoglio deliberately resorts to confusion when answering the question of whether a pro-abortion Catholic can receive Communion: he says denial of Communion is a pastoral (sic!) problem, and not theological. Moreover, the refusal of communion - he continues - is ‘political,’ and not pastoral.”

“Why? He doesn't say, he just hints. It is ‘Bergoglio’s word,’ period.… According to him, the pastor must be a pastor and not forbid or not condemn. In addition, he must be a ‘pastor of the excommunicated,’ for ‘the whole Bible says so.’ Where does it say that? He doesn't specify it because he can't, so he imposes it apodictically, just because he says so.”

 “In any case, this is the ‘Bergoglio Bible,’ not that of the Church. It is the ‘word of Bergoglio,’ period. Isn't that a bit too much? In this way, with a stroke of the pen, on this very delicate subject, Pope Bergoglio sets aside Revelation, the two-thousand-year-old Tradition of the Church, and the entire magisterium of the Church to impose his own point of view and his own program, but in open and obvious contradiction with the Church of Jesus Christ and its 2,000 years of history.”

A Neo-Clericalism Above Divine Law?

This way of ignoring the 2,000 year old magisterium - as if the Church had started 60 years ago with the Second Vatican Council - makes Phil Lawler, the founder and director of Catholic World News, question what he would be tempted to hold as a manifestation of clericalism.

On November 2, on Catholic Culture, the American journalist readily admitted: “It is perfectly plausible that, if Biden questioned him on the subject, Pope Francis might have encouraged him to continue receiving Communion.”

“That would consistent with his remarks to reporters just a few weeks earlier, when he said: 'I have never refused the Eucharist to anyone,' and advised other priests: ‘Be a pastor and don’t go around condemning.’ It is consistent with his statement in Evangelii Gaudium that the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’”

But Phil Lawler immediately raises the major objection which imposes itself on any Catholic conscience: “When the Pope (or any bishop, or any priest) makes the 'pastoral' decision to tell a sinner that he can safely ignore God’s law, does that cleric really think he has resolved the problem?”

“Does he believe in his own power to hand out ‘Get out of hell free’ cards? The matter is still grave; the offense against God remains.… Our Lord gave his apostles the authority to absolve sins, but not to excuse them…. [A priest] cannot redefine the statutes that God has laid down; he cannot edit the Decalogue. And while he can give absolution for a past sin, he certainly cannot give permission for the sin to continue.”

And he asks himself: “Pope Francis frequently rails against the habits of clericalism. But is there a more egregious display of clericalism than the suggestion that anyone - even a Roman Pontiff - can rewrite the laws of God?”