Biden, The Eucharist, and the Bishops: WHAT IS AT STAKE?

By Father Richard Gennaro Cipolla

The possibility that President Biden will be refused Holy Communion as a result of the American bishops’ decision to go ahead with writing a document on “Eucharistic coherence” is making headlines in many newspapers, especially those considered “liberal” in today’s understanding of that term.  The New York Times last Saturday featured a front-page article titled “Bishops on path to refuse Biden holy communion”. It is significant that the article is written using political terminology.  The author frames the division among the bishops in terms of “conservative” and “liberal”. In this framework, those who are “conservative” are out of step with Pope Francis and his understanding of the role of the Catholic Church in today’s world.  Those who are “liberal” are in accord with Francis’ agenda. According to the article, it is the “conservative” bishops who are in the majority, and who by means of this document—which has yet to be written and published—are determined to deny President Biden Holy Communion because of his firm governmental support of abortion.  

Archbishop Gomez, on Inauguration Day, issued a statement criticizing Biden not only for his pro-abortion stance but also for his support for policies “that would advance moral evils in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage and gender”. But on “the other side”, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C. has, according to the author of the Timesarticle, “made it clear that he does not support denying communion to Mr. Biden”.  And so in this way, the author of the article frames the whole debate in terms of a political understanding of the terms “liberal” and “conservative”. 

To do so is to advance “fake news”, for those political terms are not applicable to the debate among the bishops.  It is probable that some of the bishops who support the writing of the document on “Eucharistic coherence” are politically liberal. And others can be described as politically conservative. That is irrelevant to the bishops’ concern in the current debate, a debate that has the very meaning of the Eucharist at its heart. The framing of this debate in terms of political labels hides what is really at stake for the Church: the recovery by her people of the meaning of the Eucharist and of the Real Presence of Christ. 

The terms liberal and conservative have little to do with the American bishops’ debate on Eucharistic coherence, nor with the opera buffa of the Cardinal Marx resignation affair, nor with the circus of the Amazon Synod.  The battle for the soul of the Church is between those who embrace the Tradition of the Catholic Church and those who relativize that Tradition in the name of empathy and progress.  We must remember what Tradition means in terms of the Catholic Church.  Tradition consists of the authority of the truth of Scripture and the authority of the teaching of the Church through its history guided by the Holy Spirit. At the very heart of Catholic Tradition is the person of Jesus Christ as true God and true man. Tradition and truth cannot be separated. The battle is between those who are Traditional and those who are—for lack of a better term—unTraditional.  This battle has its beginnings even before the Second Vatican Council, in that diffuse movement called Modernism, which was basically a belief that the Tradition can be adapted to historical movements of society and thought, even when those adaptations are contrary to Catholic Tradition itself.  

In many ways the documents of the Second Vatican Council are an expression of the Church deciding to try to become modern—at the same time that the world was moving to post-modernity.  Historically, ecumenical councils were called to hammer out doctrinal issues and to counter theological opinions that were not consonant with Tradition.  Vatican II is the sole exception.  It was at the outset understood as a “pastoral Council” that would address the “world” at a crucial time in its history.  The deep crisis facing the Church today is the product of those who used the Council to move beyond Tradition. The results are the crisis in which the Church finds itself today: a crisis of faith that has been ignored for over fifty years.

The battle about “Eucharistic coherence” is not about President Biden.  It is not about “weaponizing the Eucharist” as Archbishop McElroy has claimed. (He should ponder St. Paul’s words in I Corinthians 11:27ff.)  Neither is it about opinions about how the Church should function in a militantly secular society.  The battle is about whether the Catholic Church will remain faithful to the Tradition, at whose heart is the person of Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life, or whether it will become one more “denomination”, and, like much of American Protestantism, will dissolve into “mere religion” that is a reflection of the society in which it functions.  


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4 Responses to Biden, The Eucharist, and the Bishops: WHAT IS AT STAKE?

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    He will receive an admonition, then communion!
    Nothing will come of this brouhaha except a lot of hype. Libs will get the “go” light and unawake conservatives will wonder “what just happened”?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. kathleen says:

    Fr Cipolla is right of course: there is much more at stake here than giving Holy Communion to one hypocritical old man… or not. (Any well-catechised Catholic knows the answer to that question.)

    So instead, to Father’s final important question, the answer is of course, “Yes”. The true Catholic Church will always remain faithful to Tradition, for She is the Bride of Christ, and Our Lord Jesus Christ has given us His promise that “the gates of Hell will not prevail against it” – (Matt. 16:18).

    But Our Lord never said that the Church’s enemies, the army of Satan, would not try to bring Her down. In fact, quite the contrary, as Our Blessed Lord prophesied, and our two thousand year old history vividly demonstrates. Mystics, saints and prophets have also warned us that Satan and his minions would try to set up a “false church” within the very gates of the True Church. There has never been a time when heretics, enemy religions, sodomites, proud ambitious clerics or earthly kings, and a very long etcetera, have not sought all types of devious means to break or infiltrate the Holy Catholic Church. And according to Archbishop Schneider, we are living one of the most dangerous assaults on the Church IN OUR OWN TIMES !

    They will not succeed… but it is up to each and every faithful Catholic alive today to make sure we do our bit to defend Her. That is why we were chosen by God to be born in this epoch.

    It is quite a daunting reality, isn’t it? Already many outstanding men and women of the late 20th and early 21st century have passed onto Eternity having “fought the good fight” at great cost to themselves for this end, never giving in to the anti-Christian worldly ethos.
    They have passed the baton onto us. Let’s make sure the One Holy Catholic Church in her Tradition, and handed down to us generation after generation, prevails now and forever.

    P.S. The article above should have been published under “Catholicism Pure & Simple” and not under my name. I didn’t write it!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I read yesterday that the bishops were moving in the right direction in this matter! Biden is to me a complete abomination not just to the Catholic Church or America, but to humanity period! He is to me America’s Man of Perdition; 48 years of evil nefarious dealings! And he only got exponentially worse in old age! Doomed!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Prophecy being fulfilled: Changing the meaning of the Holy Eucharist. – RemnantDisciplesJtM

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