Eucharist weaponised for political ends — this must not happen!

In the six months since the 2020 election, a growing movement has emerged in the Church in the United States that calls upon the nation’s bishops to publicly exclude President Joseph R Biden and other Catholic public officials from the Eucharist.

May 08, 2021

By  Bishop Robert W. McElroy,
In the six months since the 2020 election, a growing  movement has emerged in the Church in the United  States that calls upon the nation’s bishops to publicly exclude President Joseph R Biden and other Catholic public  officials from the Eucharist. 

Those who support this action make a concise, threepart argument: the long tradition of the Church requires  personal worthiness to receive the Eucharist, the president  supports positions on abortion that clearly depart from the  teaching of the Church on an extremely grave moral issue; and the persistent rejection of clear Catholic teaching  extinguishes that worthiness.

It is understandable how numerous Catholic leaders  have come to this moment. It is almost 50 years since the  Supreme Court decision in the case Roe v Wade. While  progress in reducing abortions has occurred in some jurisdictions and the number of abortions nationwide has  fallen, the United States still rejects the legal structures  and policies that can bring meaningful protection to the  unborn. 

The election of President Biden and a Democratic Congress is a sign that, outside of the courts, federal progress  on the pivotal moral issue of abortion will not occur in the  immediate future. This is an immense sadness for every  bishop in our country and the Church as a whole. The  leaders of the Church are ardently seeking a step that will  advance the protection of the unborn.

But the proposal to exclude pro-choice Catholic political leaders from the Eucharist is the wrong step. It will  bring tremendously destructive consequences — not because of what it says about abortion, but because of what  it says about the Eucharist.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1325) teaches  that: “The Eucharist is the efficacious sign and sublime  cause of that communion in the divine life and that unity  of the People of God by which the Church is kept in being. It is the culmination both of God’s action sanctifying  the world in Christ and the worship men offer to Christ  and through him to the Father in the Holy Spirit.”

Because of this sacred nature and identity, the Eucharist  must never be instrumentalised for a political end, no matter how important. But that is precisely what is being done  in the effort to exclude Catholic political leaders who oppose the Church’s teaching on abortion and civil law. The  Eucharist is being weaponised and deployed as a tool in  political warfare. This must not happen.

The substantial damage that will occur within the eucharistic community due to this instrumentalisation will  be broad and deep. The Catechism (#1323) proclaims:

“At the Last Supper, on the night he was betrayed, our  Saviour instituted the Eucharistic sacrifice of his Body  and Blood. This he did in order to perpetuate the sacrifice of the cross throughout the ages until he should come  again, and so to entrust to his beloved Spouse, the Church,  a memorial of his death and resurrection: a sacrament of  love, a sign of unity, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet.” 

A national policy of excluding pro-choice political  leaders from the Eucharist would constitute an assault on  that unity, on that charity. 

Fully half the Catholics in the United States will see  this action as partisan. It will bring the terrible partisan  divisions into the very act of worship that God intends to  cause and signify our oneness. Quo Vadis, Catholic Bishops of America? ––America Magazine

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