Nearly 60 House Democrats are calling on Catholic bishops to cease the “weaponization” of Holy Communion and urged them to stop targeting Democrats who support abortion as being unworthy of the sacred sacrament of the Eucharist.
The Catholic Democrats issued a “Statement of Principles” on Friday clearly aimed at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for voting this week to draft a formal document on the meaning of the Eucharist that is expected to admonish Catholic politicians and other public figures who disobey church teaching on abortion and other core beliefs.
“We solemnly urge you to not move forward and deny this most holy of all sacraments, the source and the summit of the whole work of the gospel, over one issue,” the lawmakers wrote in a statement.
The new Communion document isn’t finalized yet and at least two-thirds of the bishops would have to vote to adopt the language at their next gathering slated for November. While the bishops said the document isn’t targeted at one individual, the Friday vote announcement came amid contentious debate on whether Joe Biden and other politicians who support abortion policies, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are worthy of receiving Communion at Mass.
The Democrats suggest that they are being targeted for the one issue of abortion whereas Republicans who support the death penalty, which is also against the church’s pro-life teachings, are not under fire.
“The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman’s safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory,” the House Democrats wrote.
“No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants.”
In all, 59 Democrats signed on to the statement organized by Reps. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut, Sylvia Garcia of Texas and Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania. The co-signers ranged from New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is on the far left of the party, to Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar, who is one of the more conservative Democrats in the House. Also signing was California Rep. Ted Lieu, who went off on a Twitter tirade against the Catholic bishops this weekend.
The Democrats highlighted how basic Catholic principles, like helping the disadvantaged, have informed their political policies of universal healthcare, fighting child poverty and more. They pointed out the separation between church and state, and acknowledged how some of their policies have also bucked the Catholic Church.
“We acknowledge and accept the tension that comes with being in disagreement with the Church in some areas,” the lawmakers wrote. “We recognize that no political party is perfectly in accord with all aspects of Church doctrine. This fact speaks to the secular nature of American democracy, not the devotion of our democratically elected leaders.”
The Democrats suggested the role of the Catholic Church is not only to accept the pure but to welcome sinners too. The lawmakers reminded the bishops of the words of Pope Francis who previously wrote that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
“To pursue a blanket denial of the Holy Eucharist to certain elected officials would indeed grieve the Holy Spirit and deny the evolution of that individual, a Christian person who is never perfect, but living in the struggle to get there,” the lawmakers wrote.