Division Among the Bishops, or a Blessing in Disguise? …. What Unites Us Divides Us, by Stephen P. White

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Bishops and alter servers process out after Mass at St. Peter Claver Church in Baltimore Nov. 14 during the annual fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) See BISHOPS-PETER-CLAVER-MASS Nov. 15, 2016.

By Stephen P. White, The Catholic Thing, June 3, 2021

Stephen P. White is executive director of The Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America and a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


The Catholic bishops in the United States are divided over the best way to respond to Catholic politicians who defend, promote, and subsidize grave injustices and moral evils. We have been having similar debates for decades, though the issues and politicians in question have changed over time. The debate has, for understandable reasons, recently focused on the issue of abortion and the actions of President Joe Biden, but there are other politicians and issues to which the debate could be extended.

This broader debate about Catholics in public life, in turn, is often reduced to the particular question of whether such politicians ought to be denied Communion in order to prevent them from harming themselves and giving scandal to the community. Many bishops think charity demands such action and that the Church’s own law reflects this. Other bishops insist that, whatever the pastoral intention, denying the Eucharist to politicians like Joe Biden would be widely perceived as “politicizing the Eucharist.” …

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