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60 prelates seek to block US bishops’ discussion on abortion and Communion

May 25, 2021

More than 60 American bishops have signed a letter to Archbishop José Gomez, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), urging him not to go forward with plans for a full discussion of the challenge posed by prominent Catholics who oppose Church teaching on the right to life.

The Pillar news site, which broke the story of the bishops’ letter, reports that these bishops say the conference lacks a "high standard of consensus" on the question of Eucharistic coherence.

The letter in effect says that the USCCB should shelve a discussion that the conference has already approved for the agenda of its next meeting.

Among the prominent prelates who signed the letter, Pillar reports, are Cardinals Wilton Gregory, Blase Cupich, and Sean O'Malley. Cardinal Timothy Dolan originally expressed support but then withdrew after seeing the text of the letter, Pillar says.

Cardinal Cupich had reportedly lobbied the Vatican to intervene on the question, prompting the recent letter from Cardinal Luis Ladaria, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, saying that the USCCB should not issue any unless the American bishops could reach a strong consensus— an outcome that seems highly unlikely in light of their clear public divisions.

Although Cardinal Ladaria did warn the American hierarchy that a strong statement could be divisive, he did not suggest that the USCCB should postpone discussion of the issue. The Vatican official also observed that individual bishops are free to enact their own policies regarding Eucharistic coherence, without waiting for approval by the episcopal conference.

Cardinal Cupich has been engaged in a running public debate with other prominent prelates— including Archbishops Samuel Aquila, Salvatore Cordileone, and Charles Chaput, and Bishop James Wall— about the reception of Communion by politicians who defy the Church’s moral teachings. The same debate has raged within the American Church for decades. But the election of a Catholic president, who strongly champions unrestricted legal abortion on demand, has brought new attention to the challenge.

Pillar reports that a copy of the bishops’ letter has been circulated among officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State. Cardinal Cupich evidently suggested that the Secretariat of State could direct the USCCB to alter its agenda— as the Vatican did in 2018, asking the American bishops to postpone discussion of the McCarrick scandal.

More recently, early this year the Secretariat of State— apparently urged on by Cardinal Cupich— asked Archbishop Gomez to delay release of a statement criticizing President Joe Biden. The statement by Archbishop Gomez was made public only after an Inauguration Day statement by Pope Francis that was much more favorable to the new President.


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  • Posted by: kozakmaryanne1112 - Jun. 01, 2021 8:08 AM ET USA

    The illustrious Justin Martyr once wrote of the Eucharist:And this food is called the Eucharist among us. No one is ALLOWED to PARTAKE of it other than him WHO BELIEVES the THINGS TAUGHT BY US TO BE TRUE, and by him whose sins are washed away in the washing unto into regeneration. THERE is the answer, dear bishops. Public figures who openly support abortion should not partake of the Body and Blood of Christ until they openly repent and renig their support of abortion!

  • Posted by: grateful1 - May. 28, 2021 8:04 PM ET USA

    Is a list of all the signatories to the letter published somewhere? If not, why not? I'd like to know if my bishop is on it. And cheers to JimK01 for his post on Dolan -- Jim, you've captured him (and his both-sides-of-his-mouth M.O.) perfectly.

  • Posted by: JimKcda - May. 26, 2021 6:54 PM ET USA

    Timothy Dolan is just being himself. When has he ever taken a firm stand on anything controversial? Orthodox? Conservative? Remember when he was the Grand Marshal of the “Pride Parade”? He usually talks big at first so he gets “quotes” out there to use later and then finds some nebulous reason to back away for political, “pastoral” or “charitable” reasons. JUST LIKE HE DID WITH ISSUE. He does this over and over and over again!

  • Posted by: [email protected] - May. 26, 2021 1:03 AM ET USA

    These are the wolves in sheep's clothing. Several were mentored by Mccarrick. So that should tell you something. The other wolves are only interested in dividing the Church so they can accommodate the leftist democratic agenda which is the destruction of the Church and the family. These wolves should be ashamed and forced to resign. We need more brave Bishops to speak out against the political hacks claiming to be good Catholics like Biden and Pelosi. St. Michael defend us.

  • Posted by: feedback - May. 25, 2021 9:35 PM ET USA

    This is such a scandalous and direct betrayal of the Catholic Faith and morals. It shows how weak is the Francis' papacy. Timothy Dolan should explain his change of heart and withdrawal of support for this letter.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - May. 25, 2021 8:43 PM ET USA

    Whoever is not with me is against me; and whoever does not gather with me scatters (luke 11:23).

  • Posted by: AnthonyP - May. 25, 2021 6:49 PM ET USA

    Maybe the discussion shouldn’t be about communion and more about excommunication?

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - May. 25, 2021 6:21 PM ET USA

    I don't see the upside to either position, but I do see the Gospel position. Either we believe that murder is evil under all circumstances or we don't. If someone actively crusades for the right to murder the innocent, they are in peril of their souls and need to be denied the sacrament that requires we be in the state of grace to receive. Do they argue "invincible ignorance" for these pols?

  • Posted by: frjt - May. 25, 2021 4:43 PM ET USA

    Dominus flevit! St joseph, give us leaders! Not sheeple!