President Joe Biden may be one of many politicians to soon be snubbed in church for his views on abortion.
According to NPR, Catholic bishops are in the process of revisiting their policy on who is eligible to receive communion, with special consideration to Catholic lawmakers and elected officials who support abortion rights.
Biden specifically came up several times during the bishops’ discussion, which took place during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops last week. It was not so much a discussion as it was a “contentious debate,” NPR reports, with one bishop calling Biden and his relationship to the Catholic church an “unprecedented situation in the country.”
“We’ve never had a situation like this where the executive is a Catholic president opposed to the teaching of the church,” said the bishop, Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker in Oregon.
Another bishop put it more pointedly: “This is a Catholic president that’s doing the most aggressive thing we’ve ever seen in terms of this attack on life when it’s most innocent,” said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, leader of the bishops’ “pro-life” committee.
Others, however, worried about creating divisions within the church and cutting off lines of communication with Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.
This dispute has been ongoing since at least 2004, when John Kerry ran for president, but was largely dormant until Biden’s 2020 bid for office. It would be pretty extreme to ban lawmakers from participating in an aspect of their religion that is so central to its practice; then again, it is also pretty extreme to oppose abortion, a common healthcare procedure.
The small irony here is that while Biden may be a supporter of abortion rights, it’s a position he rarely if ever embraces wholeheartedly. So far Biden has, for example, rolled back the global gag rule, moved to repeal Trump’s Title X rule, and excluded the harmful Hyde amendment from his latest budget proposal. But to my best knowledge, his administration has yet to even utter the word “abortion,” instead choosing to skirt the issue with carefully worded press releases and oblique comments. Perhaps this is why!