Latin America

U.S. bishops' assembly debates communion to abortion politicians, other issues

The spring general assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) begins in the United States, addressing issues vital to the life of the Church in the United States, such as the debate over communion to abortion politicians.

Gonzalo Meza-June 17, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes
bishops United States

Photo: ©2021 Catholic News Service / U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

From today until June 18, the spring general assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) begins in the United States. This meeting will be virtual because of the restrictions imposed by the Covid 19 pandemic. The Assembly will begin with an address by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America, followed by an introductory message from the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose. H. Gomez, president of the USCCB.

Although the assembly's agenda includes a number of issues vital to the life of the Church in the United States, one issue is at the center of the debate not only at this meeting, but in the national and international media. 

It is the approval of a "formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church". Although this initiative is addressed to all Catholics, the main objective is to send a message to President Joe Biden and to American Catholic politicians about the meaning of the reception of the Eucharist and what it entails, particularly to manifest in public and in private coherence with the Catholic principles of the Church, especially in matters of the defense of life and the family composed of a man and a woman. Although Joe Biden declares himself to be a "practicing" Catholic and attends Mass regularly, during his term in office he has promoted a large number of pro-abortion and pro-same-sex union policies. This fact has upset more than one U.S. prelate, some of whom have even asked the Archbishop of Washington to make a statement. He has refused. 

The issue is the tip of the iceberg that manifests the polarization that exists in the North American Church. Although some bishops have expressed and written pastoral letters about this fact, other bishops consider that it is not pertinent to express a public "scolding". Upon learning of the USCCB's intention to issue a "formal statement," the Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Luis Ladaria Ferrer, sent a letter to the President of the USCCB a few weeks ago asking for reconsideration and careful reflection on the appropriateness of issuing such a document. Despite this "warning" from Rome, the USCCB and the bishops have decided to include the topic in this Assembly. It is very likely that the drafting of this document, if approved, will be postponed until the next fall assembly in November, when the bishops will meet in person in Baltimore and can discuss face-to-face this very sensitive issue, which could cause a major division in the North American Church and also generate tensions with Rome. 

This is not the only topic to be discussed at the Assembly. There are other topics of great importance, among them:

-the causes of beatification and canonization for the Servants of God Joseph Verbis Lefleur and Marinus (Leonard) LaRue; 

-the approval of three translations of the Liturgy of the Hours by the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL) for use in U.S. dioceses;

-a National Pastoral Framework for Marriage and Family Life Ministry in the United States entitled: "A Call to the Joy of Love";

-the development of a new formal statement and comprehensive vision for Native American Ministry;

-approval of the drafting of a National Pastoral Framework for Youth and Young Adults.

The live broadcast of the public sessions can be followed and will be available on the following web site

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