Cupich, Gregory oppose policy that could deny Communion to some politicians

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops plans to devote part of its national meeting this month to drafting a policy that could deny Communion to politicians who support policies at odds with church teachings such as abortion rights.

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President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill, listen as Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, delivers the invocation during a COVID-19 memorial at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in Washington.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory has made clear that President Joe Biden, who sometimes worships in Washington, is welcome to receive Communion at the archdiocese’s churches.

AP file

Two cardinals with Chicago ties are among the dozens of religious leaders who oppose the drafting of a new policy that could deny Communion for President Joe Biden and other Catholic politicians who support policies at odds with church’s teachings such as abortion rights.

Cardinal Blase Cupich and recently appointed Cardinal Wilton Gregory joined 45 other diocesan bishops last month in signing a letter that urged the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to suspend its discussion on “Eucharistic coherence,” The Pillar reported Monday.

In the letter sent May 13 to bishops conference president Archbishop Jose Gomez, the signees called for the end of “all Conference wide discussion and committee work on the topic of Eucharistic worthiness,” according to the Pillar. The collective also pleaded for other issues to be postponed until the full body of bishops can meet in person.

“The serious nature of these issues — especially the imperative to forgo substantive unity — makes it impossible to address them productively in the fractured and isolated setting of a distance meeting,” the letter’s signatories wrote via the Pillar.

Cupich, who was appointed archbishop of Chicago by Pope Francis in 2014, couldn’t be reached for comment. A spokesperson of the Archdiocese of Chicago said they don’t comment on rumors.

Gregory, a Chicago native who became the Roman Catholic Church’s first African American cardinal last November, wasn’t immediately available for comment.

The debate over who can receive Communion intensified after Biden won the presidential election.

Biden is just the second Catholic president in U.S. history, but the first to offer support for expanded legal protection and public funding for abortion.

Many Catholics are split on the topic of Communion and Biden. The Associated Press quoted a top bishop in April as saying that the document’s purpose would be to “make clear the USCCB’s view that Biden and other Catholic public figures with similar viewpoints should not present themselves for Communion.”

Bishops and cardinals are expected to vote this month at the U.S. bishops conference upcoming virtual assembly on the possibility of creating a teaching document on “Eucharistic coherence.” If approved, the actual text could be up for a vote of approval as soon as November, according to the Pillar.

The document won’t outright restrict access to the Eucharist for public figures who support policies that differ from the church’s teachings. Per USCCB policy, individual bishops have the right to decide who to withhold Communion from within their jurisdiction.

Those in charge of where Biden primarily worships are Bishop W. Francis Malooly of Wilmington, Delaware, and Gregory, the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., — both of whom have said Biden is welcome to receive Communion at the churches they oversee, AP reported.

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