Refusal of Communion: The Discussion Heats Up Among American Bishops

June 04, 2021
Cardinal Blase Cupich and Bishop Jose Gomez

A petition signed by some 60 American prelates asks to postpone the debate scheduled for next June on the refusal of Eucharistic communion to politicians who promote abortion and euthanasia. The initiative comes a fortnight after the Roman reframing of pro-life bishops.

On May 21, 2021, FSSPX.News reported on the Roman disavowal received a few days earlier by American pro-life bishops.

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), had written to them in order to discourage them from establishing a line common to all American prelates concerning the refusal of sacramental communion to politicians encouraging abortion or euthanasia.

Stimulated by the Roman intervention, some 60 bishops - including several of those considered to be progressive in the United States - have just written to the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), asking him to postpone any discussion on the topic.

“Having before our eyes the text sent on May 7, 2021 by His Eminence Cardinal Ladaria, we respectfully ask that all the work on discussion and commission, at the level of the Conference, bearing on the theme of Eucharistic dignity and other questions raised by the Holy See, be postponed until the entire body of bishops can meet,” say the signatories.

A letter in the form of a petition was signed by several American cardinals, Wilton Gregory of Washington, Blase Cupich of Chicago, and Sean O’Malley of Boston.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, would have been the originator of the letter, but his name has since been withdrawn from the text, “at his request,” specified a spokesperson for the archdiocese who did not wish expand more on the subject.

In the Vatican, several senior officials of the Secretary of State confirmed to The Pillar news site that the text of the 60 bishops had been communicated to the Vatican before its publication by Cardinal Cupich, who had come to Rome in person.

The same high prelate had also intervened successfully last January, in order to persuade the Holy See to bypass a fairly critical statement with regard to the new American administration, which was to be published by Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the USCCB, the very day of the inauguration of Joe Biden as president of the United States.

Several bishops rushed to the aid of Abp. Gomez, in particular the Archbishop of San Francisco, Msgr. Salvatore Cordileone, who spoke to express his “pain at the controversy aroused… and at the maneuvers of those who want to interfere in the normal operation of the USCCB.”

But the president of the Episcopal Conference does not seem ready to give up: in a memorandum sent on May 21 to all the bishops, the prelate, who does not mention the petition received a few days earlier, specifies that the discussion on Eucharistic communion will take place in June as planned, at the next meeting of the USCCB.

“I am grateful for the way the Doctrine Committee approached its work and for the good advice we have received from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: so I look forward to our plenary meeting,” concludes the Archbishop of Los Angeles.

You don't have to be a psychic to understand that conservative and progressive prelates are polishing their weapons on the eve of a meeting that promises to be under high tension.