Father Dave discusses the U.S. bishops’ vote to draft a document on the Eucharist, and unpacks what this means for the Church.
Father Dave first explains that the process of creating documents is not new, and that the USCCB often releases documents about various pastoral needs that are specific to our region of the world. While there are 240 bishops in the United States, a smaller subcommittee will be tasked with producing a working draft that would go before the entire body of bishops to be edited and agreed upon. “It’s not dissimilar to drafting a piece of legislation that Congress would vote on,” Father Dave says.
“Due to the pandemic and lack of understanding of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, the bishops believe this is a crucial time in the life of the Church… Recent studies have shown that actual churchgoing Catholics either don’t understand the teaching on the Eucharist or struggle believing it. So given all that, it’s been a couple of years coming that the U.S. bishops have said that it should be a priority as a single body with a single voice, all of us bishops and teachers of the faith, to try to stir up a renewal of Eucharistic devotion.”
“There’s not even a draft of this document yet. What [the bishops] were voting on last week was whether or not to even draft a document about how great the Eucharist is… It would be weird not to include our belief about the degree to which the Eucharist is so fundamental to our faith, that there are times that we as Catholics should choose not to receive it because we don’t find ourselves worthy. We look to the letters of Saint Paul where he talks about that. It has been in the Catechism of the Catholic Church for centuries, that if somebody finds in their heart that there is a grave sin that has separated them from God and community, they should not receive communion. Because, let’s listen to the word, I am not ‘in communion’ right now. I’ve broken communion by what I’ve done or what I’ve thought, or what I haven’t done. So for me to go up and receive [the Eucharist] would be a lie in a sense. So to have a document talking about community, that also includes Eucharistic coherence, meaning we are all on the same page about how important this is.”
Father Dave also discusses the current debate on whether or not politicians who support abortion should be able to receive communion. “Some bishops have said that there should be a part of this document that talks about the worthiness of particular public figures, including politicians — particularly politicians who take stances that are contrary to that of the Catholic Church, and are Catholic themselves… I do know that President Biden goes to Mass every Sunday. Just to clarify the facts, what the bishops voted on last week was not to deny Joe Biden communion, but in fact, to start writing the Eucharistic document. That’s really what they voted on.”
“The other important thing in talking about this topic is to reiterate what we’ve always taught about the Eucharist. If someone is aware of mortal sin [they’ve committed], they should not receive communion. But we don’t have a little X-ray machine that tells us when people are in a state of mortal sin. The Church has always taught if an individual is aware of mortal sin, they should not present themselves from communion… There have been certain bishops or pastors that have said, ‘If so-and-so comes into my communion line, I know their politics, or I know their morality, and I will not give them communion.’ This is not the universal teaching of the Catholic Church, and would indeed be very controversial. If the U.S. bishops would create some sort of document that says, ‘This is our policy.’ I think that’s very, very, unlikely that they would do that.” (Original Air 6-21-21)