President Biden has attended Mass this weekend despite a vote by Catholic Bishops in the US which could see him being banned from receiving the Eucharist because of his liberal stance on abortion.
Catholic bishops in the United States voted by three to one to draft new guidance on the Eucharist. Conservative Bishops want a new teaching document which would advise that Catholics who diverge from the church’s stance on abortion should be denied Holy Communion.
President Biden is a devout Catholic who attends Mass every weekend. He has a liberal stance on abortion saying that while he personally believes that life begins at conception, he recognises others do not share his view.
Responding to the Bishops’ vote he said :
"That's a private matter and I don't think that's gonna happen."
In recent years, some conservative Bishops have feared a misunderstanding of the importance of the Eucharist or Holy Communion to Catholic life. They believe denying the sacrament to the President and other Catholic politicians with similar views on abortion, would send a strong message.
Opponents to the move fear it is a polarising move which would lead to weaponization of the Eucharist.
The unexpected strength of support for the move is a rebuff to the Vatican, which had signalled its opposition fearing a breakdown in unity.
The bishops will hold a debate on the teaching document in November, when it will require a two-thirds majority for it to proceed.
Joe Biden is the second Catholic elected US president, after John F Kennedy.