USCCB refuses blanket ban on pro-abortion politicians receiving Eucharist

The vote comes after several months of internal debate following the election of President Biden.

President Joe Biden takes a call from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the Oval Office. (White House/Flickr)

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has passed its long-awaited guidance on worthy reception of the Eucharist, though it does not contain a blanket ban on pro-abortion politicians presenting themselves for Holy Communion.

On Wednesday morning the document passed by a 222-8 vote, with three bishops abstaining. Applause followed the vote, which took place at the USCCB’s annual fall meeting, the first one in person since 2019.

Despite no specific prohibition on the reception of the Eucharist by pro-abortion politicians, the document makes it clear that Catholics in the public sphere have a “special responsibility” to develop their consciences to adhere to the Church’s “faith and moral law,” per The Washington Post.

An earlier draft of the document spoke of the responsibility to “embody Church teaching in their service of the common good” instead.

And despite no mention of any pro-abortion politicians by name, including President Joe Biden, the document cites a 2006 directive that any Catholic who “knowingly or obstinately” rejects settled Church teaching on faith and morals should not present themselves for Holy Communion.

The vote comes after several months of internal debate following the election of President Biden. Although the American bishops have been discussing Eucharistic guidance for many years, the debate took on greater urgency due to Biden’s support for abortion access and his efforts to expand it.

Conservative prelates have long underscored the need to deny the Eucharist to pro-abortion politicians until they repent, while liberal prelates have accused the conservatives of “weaponizing” and “politicizing” the Eucharist. The latter sentiment had been echoed by the Vatican and even Pope Francis himself.

The issue of pro-abortion politicians was not the only one on the table, however, for the bishops discussed several other potential amendments to the document. They also passed guidelines on other matters like “socially responsible investing and picking new leaders for various committees,” per the Post.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.