This subtext became clear as the bishops debated the subject for more than two hours on Thursday: “I can’t help but wonder if the years 2022 and 2024 could be part of the rush,” Bishop Robert M. Coerver of Lubbock, in Texas, said.
Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who heads the Bishops Committee on Doctrine, which has highlighted the communion effort, responded at a press conference that the upcoming presidential and midterm elections “will not never entered my mind, nor that of the committee. “
Anti-abortion supporters already see a political opportunity in the bishops’ plan. The Students for Life organization held rallies in seven cities on Thursday to urge bishops to vote “yes”. So far Republicans ‘don’t have much of a chance to demonize Biden,’ so they are testing abortion as a potential issue to criticize him on, as they have done with trans athletes in youth sports and critical race theory, said Mike Mikus, policy consultant. in Pittsburgh, which advises Democratic campaigns.
“It’s about mobilizing Republicans; everything is a game at the base, ”he said.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, an assembly of the country’s 433 active and retired bishops, can issue policy statements, but it does not have the power to decide who can and cannot receive the sacrament of Communion. . This power is reserved for the local bishop, who has autonomy in his diocese, or for the Pope.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Archbishop of Washington, has made it clear that he does not support Mr. Biden’s denial of Communion. Bishop-elect William Koenig of Wilmington, Del., Mr Biden’s hometown, has remained largely silent on the issue ahead of his installation next month.
Usually, the annual meeting of bishops in June is a dry matter. But this week has been the most engrossing in years, not only because of the topic, but also because it was controversial and revealed the deep division, theologically and politically, between the American leadership of the Church.