US Bishops Urge Those Who Reject Church Teachings To Forgo Communion, Weeks After Condemning Abortion Funding In Biden Agenda

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Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) urged Catholics who reject the church’s teachings to forgo communion without first going to confession in a Wednesday statement drafted at the USCCB’s fall general assembly.

The USCCB agreed in June to draft a statement on the meaning of communion, largely in response to widespread calls for Catholic priests to refuse communion for Catholic politicians who publicly reject the church’s teachings on abortion, such as President Joe Biden. The statement does not specifically mention any politician, and nor does it instruct priests to withhold communion, but it does urge Catholics individually to avoid communion of their own accord if they “knowingly and obstinately” reject the teachings of the church.

The statement comes weeks after the USCCB sent a letter to Congress urging lawmakers to remove funding for abortion from Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which the president is still struggling to pass. The Catholic Church has long taught that abortion is a murder and a mortal sin, with Pope Francis calling it “homicide.” (RELATED: Vatican Cancels Plans To Livestream Biden’s Meeting With Pope Francis)

Pope Francis waves, next to US Vice President Joe Biden, on a balcony after speaking at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on September 24, 2015.  (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden met with Francis during a trip to Rome in late October, and Biden said the pair did not discuss abortion. Biden said Francis told him he should be taking communion. As the USCCB’s Wednesday statement states, the church has long said that “One should not celebrate Mass or receive holy Communion in the state of mortal sin without having sought the sacrament of reconciliation and received absolution.”

U.S. Catholics said they did not expect the USCCB to specifically condemn politicians in the statement, let alone name any individuals. Pro-life activist and devout Catholic Lila Rose told the Daily Caller in October that the statement was likely only to remind faithful Catholics what it means to be faithful, and that the decision to withhold communion from an individual rests with their priests.

“The Catholic Church has been crystal clear about how one should receive Holy Communion. The law is, do not present yourself for communion while in a state of willful mortal sin,” Rose said at the time. “The teaching from the church has been set for centuries. It’s not going to change.”