Bishop José Ignacio Munilla of San Sebastián, Spain, harshly criticized President Joe Biden’ claim that Pope Francis personally encouraged him to continue receiving Communion despite his open support for abortion.
“These incredible statements reveal the moral character of those who are capable of compromising and manipulating the Pope with the intention of washing their conscience stained by the blood of so many innocent lives unjustly eliminated,” Bishop Munilla said in an Oct. 30 tweet.
On Oct. 29, Pope Francis received Biden in the Vatican for 75 minutes. The U.S. president told Reuters that Pope Francis told him “to keep receiving Communion.”
The Associated Press reported that Biden received Communion a day later, during a Mass offered at St. Patrick’s Church, an English-speaking church that is the main place the American Catholic community in Rome goes for Mass.
Individual U.S. bishops have issued statements in recent months on Communion for pro-abortion politicians.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois said in May that “Sadly, there are some bishops and cardinals of the Church who not only are willing to give holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, but who seek to block the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops from addressing the question of Eucharistic coherence.”
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco stated in May that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should refrain from presenting themselves for Communion.
While Biden was campaigning for president in South Carolina, he was denied Communion at a parish in 2019, in accord with diocesan policy.
Other bishops, such as Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, have said that the Eucharist should not be denied to pro-abortion Catholic public officials. At an online panel in February, McElroy warned that some bishops were seeking to make abortion a “litmus test” for Catholic officials, and said attempts to deny them Communion would be seen as a “weaponization” of the Eucharist.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington has already said he would not deny Communion to pro-abortion politicians. While Biden’s previous bishop in Wilmington, Bishop Francis Malooly, did not deny him Communion in the diocese, the new Bishop of Wilmington has not made a public statement on the matter.
Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in a 2004 memo to U.S. bishops as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated that Catholic public officials who publicly campaign for permissive abortion laws should be instructed by their pastor not to present themselves for Communion unless they stop promoting such laws. If they continue to do so despite the warnings of their pastor, and if they present themselves for Communion, the minister must deny them Communion, Ratzinger noted.
The U.S. bishops voted in June to begin drafting “a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.”
The U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee is working on drafting the document, with input from other conference committees. A draft of the document could be ready to be debated, amended, and voted on by the bishops at their November meeting.