By Matt Hadro
President Joe Biden’s regular parish in Washington, D.C. issued a statement on Tuesday that its priests and ministers will not deny Communion to those approaching to receive.
“Holy Trinity Catholic Church will not deny the Eucharist to persons presenting themselves to receive it,” read a statement of the parish council of Holy Trinity, located in Georgetown neighborhood of D.C.
Biden, a Catholic, has attended Sunday Mass at Holy Trinity parish at least six times as president, on Jan. 24, Jan. 30, Feb. 20, March 6, April 10, and June 5, according to White House pool reports. He regularly attends St. Joseph on the Brandywine parish in Wilmington, Delaware, when he travels back home to Wilmington.
Biden supports the codification of Roe v. Wade, taxpayer-funded abortion through repealing the Hyde Amendment, and the Equality Act, among other policies opposed by the U.S. bishops’ conference.
The Holy Trinity parish council stated its agreement with Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington “concerning the issues surrounding offering the Eucharist to American politicians.”
Cardinal Gregory told a journalist in November 2020 that he would not deny Communion to a politician who supported the codification of legal abortion in federal law and the taxpayer funding of abortion. Biden supports both policies.
“As a parish which has a long history of welcoming all, we concur with and support the pastoral approach of our Archbishop,” the parish stated.
The Archdiocese of Washington did not immediately respond to a request for comment by CNA on Tuesday afternoon.
According to a 2004 instruction by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, pastors and bishops must speak to Catholic public officials in their jurisdictions when the officials support permissive laws contrary to Church teaching on grave moral issues, such as legal abortion and euthanasia.
The pastors must admonish the officials that their positions are contrary to Church teaching and instruct them not to receive Communion. If the officials persist in their positions, then the minister of Communion must not distribute it to them, Cardinal Ratzinger said. The memo was an implementation of canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law.
Recently, Gregory spoke against the U.S. bishops’ conference proposal to move forward with drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist.
The proposed document outline featured sub-sections on various Church teachings regarding the Eucharist, and included a sub-section on “Eucharistic consistency,” worthiness to receive Communion. The text of the document had yet to be written, as the bishops were simply voting to begin drafting it at their annual spring meeting held from June 16-18.
Some bishops who opposed drafting the document at that time said that to do so would be political. Discussing worthiness to receive Communion – with a special call to Catholics in public life to abide by Church teaching – would be seen as a sort of rebuke of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, some warned.
On Thursday, June 17, Cardinal Gregory said that to move forward with the Eucharistic document – while the bishops were meeting virtually – would invite controversy and imperil their unity, not strengthen it.
“The choice before us at this moment, is either we pursue a path of strengthening unity among ourselves, or settle for creating a document that may not bring unity, but may well further damage it,” he stated.
The bishops voted decisively in favor of drafting the teaching document on the Eucharist, with 168 voting for the proposal and 55 voting against.
The Holy Trinity parish council called the vote “shocking and disappointing,” saying that Cardinal Gregory “serves as one of the most prominent ecclesiastical leaders in the current controversy.”
“Sadly, the recent vote has caused considerable desolation among our parishioners as well as Roman Catholics throughout the nation,” the council stated. “The great gift of the Holy Eucharist is too sacred to be made a political issue.”
During the final day of the bishops’ meeting, a group of 60 Catholic House Democrats issued a statement professing their Catholic faith and urging that politicians not be denied Communion because of their support for legal abortion.
Biden was asked by a reporter on June 18 how he felt that the U.S. bishops advanced a “resolution” to prevent pro-abortion Catholic politicians from receiving Communion. The bishops had not voted on any such resolution at their recent meeting, but rather to move forward with drafting the teaching document on the Eucharist.
“That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen,” Biden responded.