By 168 votes to 55, with six abstentions, the bishops put forward the project of a report on the meaning of the Eucharist in the Church. The vote is part of a longer process, and a rebuke from Biden and other Catholic politicians who support abortion rights is not assured. The report will be developed over the summer and presented for modification and approval in November.
The Vatican would have to approve any action on behalf of the bishops and would likely delay that approval if a specific report were released.
Biden, an abortion rights advocate who served as the first Catholic president of the United States for nearly 60 years, is the most openly religious president since Jimmy Carter. This movement is carried by the extremely conservative wing of the Catholic Church.
Some bishops want the report to be a wider teaching tool for all Catholics on the importance of the sacrament of communion and they reminded their confreres of the Pope’s exhortation to avoid divisions.
Pew polls show that more than half of American Catholics support the right to abortion and most American Catholics don’t think Biden should be denied Communion.
Catholics for Choice, a liberal Catholic group that defends the right to abortion, said it was “deeply saddened” by Friday’s vote and condemned the use of the Eucharist “as a weapon of punishment”.
“In a country and a church already torn by tension and division, bishops today have chosen to be partisan rather than pastoral, cruel rather than Christic,” the group said. “They chose to disobey Jesus’ command to ‘feed one another’, but ordinary American Catholics – 67% of whom oppose Communion and the other sacraments being denied to right-to-be supporters. abortion – will continue to know better and do better. ”
Biden has been urged for years to reconcile his devout Catholicism with his politics.
The President has been a regular at Mass since his childhood and has attended Catholic schools. He married his late first wife, Neilia, in a Catholic church and embellishes his political speech with quotes from Scripture, Catholic hymns, and references to the nuns and priests from whom he learned in school.
Although Biden personally opposed abortion on religious grounds, he also said he did not want to impose his opinion on others.
“I accept my church’s position on abortion as what we call the doctrine of faith. Life begins at conception. It’s the judgment of the church. I accept it in my personal life, ”he declared during the 2012 vice-presidential debate.“ But I refuse to impose it on Christians, Muslims and equally pious Jews. I just refuse to impose it on others, ”he said.
He added, “I don’t believe we have the right to tell other people, women, that they cannot control their bodies. It’s a decision between them and their doctor, in my opinion, and the Supreme Court I’m not going to interfere with. “
In 2019, Biden was denied communion at a South Carolina Catholic church for his support for abortion rights.
“I’m not going to discuss it. It’s just my personal life, ”Biden said after the incident.
CLARIFICATION: This article has been updated to better reflect the potential outcome of the report that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved for production.
CNN’s Zachary B. Wolf, Eric Bradner, Arlette Saenz, Allie Malloy, Jasmine Wright, Chandelis Duster, and Rachel Janfaza contributed to this report.