The Denial of Communion Controversy. A Layman’s perspective

For more than a year, the US Catholic Bishops have been arguing about how to handle the presence in the White House of an abortion advocate registered as a Catholic.
As justification, Mr. Biden has stated that he is personally opposed to abortion, but doesn’t think he has a right to impose his view on the rest of society,[1] or that he refuses to impose his religious beliefs on other people.[2] This line seems to originate with Mario Cuomo, who said that Catholics should not impose their moral beliefs on others, thus disrupting the social consensus on a complicated moral matter.[3](a) The line has become rather standard.[3](b)
The argument begs the question: Where do these people hold, let alone, live, their principles? In the shower? The rational man knows that a principle has value only when it is held in and for the world. He tries to influence the social consensus and move it in the direction he holds as right. If one is not convinced it is the right principle, why hold it? Upon seeking public office, such a person states clearly his positions, so voters know what to expect, then, if elected, upholds the stated principles. There have been such persons: Jesse Helms, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump come to mind, as does, at the other end of the spectrum, Bernie Sanders. The latter’s bolshevism is abhorrent, but he has been open and consistent about it.
Notably, Reagan in 1967 signed a California state law allowing abortions to protect the woman’s “physical or mental health.” A subsequent evaluation of the matter, led him to take the side of life.[4](a) In 1983, he proposed to lay out his arguments in an article for the Human Life Review. His political l advisors tried to dissuade it from writing such an article so close to his reelection campaign. His answer was: “I might not be reelected. We’re going with it now.”[4](b)
For his part, Biden supported in 1981a constitutional amendment allowing states to overturn Roe v Wade.[1] At that time, his state had a GOP Governor and the other senator was a Republican; it voted for Reagan twice.[2] Therefore, Biden’s position was the most expedient option at the time. By 2006, he stated his support for R.v.W., but opposed federal funding for abortion and voted for bans on the “procedure” later in the pregnancy.[1] A year later he adopted the excuse of refusing to impose his beliefs on others.[2] He kept some vestiges of a pro-life position until 2019, when he was attacked for them by the all-out supporters of abortion competing in the race for president. He then said that if elected and the Supreme Court repealed R.v.W, he would “push” legislation to keep it legal,[2] He also promised to remove any restrictions on public funding of abortion (which constitutes imposition of beliefs on others, who are forced to pay). The latest promise was kept.

Now-President Joe Biden’s position on abortion has elicited mixed reactions from Catholic bishops and priests in the U.S. Some announced that Mr. Biden should be, and will be denied Holy Communion[5] in their churches and dioceses. Others, stated that he would be welcome to take Communion in theirs and, indeed, gave it to him.[6] Two rationales, both absurd, were offered for the latter position.
The first was that doing otherwise would politicize the Eucharist.[6](a) and risk turning the Catholic Church in the US into a partisan and sectarian institution.[6](c) Invoking sectarianism indicates that the author sees the Church as another Kiwanis International. The suggestion of partisanship relates to a sharp distinction between the main US political parties. During the past forty years, the GOP has increasingly turned pro-life, whereas the Democrat Party has become the party of abortion. Thus, the last pro-life member was excised from the Democrat congressional delegation in 2020.[7] Others have quit or switched parties.[8] These developments should be of no consequence for the positions of the Church. Instead, we are now told that a politician can thrash God’s commandments if he is of the “correct” political party.
If we accept the argument, it cannot be limited to elected politicians and other prominent public figures, but must apply to all unrepentant sinners; nor can it be restricted to one type of sins. It necessarily follows that the whole Decalogue must go.
The prelates taking this position consider that the social policies of some politicians effectively countervail their anti-life and anti-family actions. This is reminiscent of Mafia Dons, who made sure that in their neighborhoods the churches were well supported, and the streets were safe and clean. Like the politicians, they paid for these good actions with stolen money.
The second rationale is bizarre: “(A)ccess to Communion is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”[9] The best answer to it is in the sermon of St. John Chrysostom on the Second Letter to Corinthians. It covers both the communicant and the priest:
Think how strong is your own anger against His betrayer, against those who crucified Him. Take care lest you yourself should become guilty of the Body and Blood of Christ. . . Who should be more free from sin than one who partakes of such a sacrifice?
. . What I am saying, I say to you also who minister, as well as to those who are ministered to. For it is necessary that I also address myself to you; that you may distribute the sacred gifts with great caution. For your punishment is not light should you, knowingly, admit anyone to the Communion of this Table whom you know to be unworthy of it. . . And even though he were a general, or a governor, or even he who wears the crown, should he draw near unworthy, forbid him: for higher is your authority than his
. [10]
An early example of the withdrawal of Holy Communion appears in the story, first written in 300AD, about Phillip the Arab.[11] He became Roman emperor in 244AD, at the death of Gordian III, possibly by assassination. Phillip was said to be a Christian, perhaps only a catechumen. His wife was Christian.[11](b) On his way to Rome, he entered a church, where the officiating bishop barred him from participating and sent him to stand with the penitents, for having been involved in the plot to kill Gordian, He complied.

To address the uneven response to the challenge of a militantly pro-abortion president at Communion, the Catholic bishops held a meeting in Nov. 2021. (The matter had been discussed in the Spring meeting as well, but no definitive agreement was reached.) Before the adoption of a document, the Vatican Ambassador addressed the meeting. He did not tell the bishops to uphold the commandments of Christ conveyed by the Apostles and taught by the Church, but to “tamp down divisions among themselves.”[6](c) He also advanced the nonsensical (or heretical, take your pick) thesis that the Eucharist must not be treated “as something to be offered to the privileged few,”[12](a) The Communion is a privilege, obtained though repentance, confession, and absolution. Even the participation at the sacrifice of the Mass is so restricted that the catechumens are excluded at the beginning of the Liturgy Of The Faithful. In the Byzantine Liturgy, the priest calls at that point: “Catechumens,” (or “Those who are called”) “depart!” Even when there are no catechumens present, the call is important, because it reminds the faithful how exclusive is the participation in the Holy Mystery of the Eucharist. It is the task of the bishops, priests, and all the faithful to bring the many to that privilege by evangelization and catechesis.
There was only one bishop who steadfastly proclaimed the Catholic Doctrine inside the conference hall[12(b) and outside it.[12](c)
The final document[13] (approved by secret ballot[12](b)) runs thirty pages and takes no position on the subject of the conference. It gives, however, the requisite nod to political correctness (for instance, addressing environmentalist concerns). It also reveals that the bishops are just “welcom(ing) people back to the communal celebration of the Mass.” If this is exact, it means that the bishops deprived the faithful from the communal celebration of the Mass for a year or so; that’s dereliction of duty. Next, of 80 references, 12 were published until 1563, other 68 after 1965, and nothing in between, as if the Catholic Church went out of existence for 400 years. In fact, whatever is valid in the document (including the 68 references) could be found in sources from that interval.
The whole document was not really necessary; One page, presenting 1 Cor, 11, 27-29 and the two paragraphs from St. John Chrysostom quoted above, was all that was needed. It is telling that the document has two other quotes from St. John Chrysostom, but not the one directly addressing the crisis at hand. In fact, the whole meeting should not have been necessary. In earlier times, each church had a written sign at the entrance: “Only persons of Catholic religion and without mortal sin are allowed to take Communion.” There were no buts or ifs.

A complicating factor today is that in their consideration of Biden and other public figures the American bishops are grievously late.
Thus, in 1973 Justice William J. Brennan, a Catholic, signed the R.v.W. decision.[14] It was said that he was the motor behind it. Likewise, Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the pro-abortion ruling in Planned Parenthood v Casey, wrote the opinion nullifying the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, and the one affirming the same sex “marriage” in 2015 (Obergefell v Hodge).[15] There should have been swift excommunication in each instance. There is a long list of politicians in high positions who should have been dealt with in that manner.
The anti-life politicians don’t issue from a vacuum. Fifty five percent of those listed as Catholics in the US consider that abortion should be legal.[16]. There is even a group calling itself “Catholics for Choice,” the president of which announced gleefully that Biden’s support of abortion “rights” puts him in the majority of American Catholics.[16](b) The explanation is simple: catechesis has been gutted after Vatican II. (A lot can be said about this subject; I won’t expand it here.) About the defense of life, the messages given by the bishops, especially around election times, have been, at best, ambiguous.[17]
Concerning the Eucharist, a 2019 Pew Research Center poll found that of those identifying themselves as Catholics in the US, about 70% don’t believe in Real Presence, 50% being ignorant or mistaken and 22% knowing the Church dogma and rejecting it. Less than one-third of all Catholics say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”[18] Examples of defilement of the Holy Eucharist during the Mass have been discussed before.[19] Although such cases usually involve the receivers of Communion, there is a primary guilt of priests and bishops, for the deficient or non-existing catechesis and for measures that have reduced the perceived value of the consecrated Host (communion in hand, lay people distributing it, priests shaking hands on their way to the altar, etc.) and have degraded the Mass. It must also be added that usually the liturgical abuses have been pushed from top down. On the last point, it is worthy of note that the document stresses the need of preserving the “decorum” of the celebration of Mass, . . “without eccentricities” and “abuses,” whereas the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires once distributed video recordings of 2011 and 2013, with the then-Archbishop presiding at Masses which do not rise even to the level of circus.[20]
The cases of defilement of the Eucharist cited before[19] were impromptu incidents. The situation at hand is much graver. Bishops and priests proceed to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, intending to defile it by giving it to those unworthy of it; this is a calculated and deliberate action.
The importance of the sacrifice being acceptable to God is repeatedly stressed in the Mass (Orate fratres . . , Quam oblationem . . ) One must ask the question whether a dishonest sacrifice can be acceptable. After all, the sacrifice of Cain satisfied the requirements of form, just as that of his brother. His sacrifice was not acceptable because it failed in intention.
As I said, I am just a layman, and this is a personal decision, I cannot receive Communion from such a priest, nor attend a Mass that he offers.

[1] E. Gonzales, Where Does Joe Biden Stand on Abortion? Breaking down the new president’s stance on and plans for reproductive rights. Harpers Bazaar, 01/28/2021,
[2] H. Przybyla, Joe Biden’s long evolution on abortion rights still holds surprises, NBC News, 06/05/2019,
[3](a) J. Frawley Desmond, The Slippery Slope of Mario and Andrew Cuomo and Abortion, Natl. Catholic Register, 01/23/2014, ; (b)
[4](a) ; [4](b) F. P. Sempra, Remembering Reagan’s ‘Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation’, The American Spectator, 09/04/2021,
[5](a) Thomas D. Williams, Texas Bishop Decries Support for Pro-Abortion Biden-Harris Administration, Breitbart, 11/13/2020, ; (b) Peter Aitken, Retired Catholic archbishop says Biden should be denied Holy Communion over abortion stance, Fox News, 12/05/2021,
[6](a) JD Flynn, Analysis: Archbishop Gregory says he won’t deny Biden communion. How will Catholics respond? 01/20/2020
(b)These bishops stand in the way of prohibiting Communion for Biden, pro-abortion politicians
(c) Brian Fraga, Joshua J. McElwee, After year of divisive debate, US bishops approve tepid document on Communion, National Catholic Reporter, 11/17/2021,
[8] Patrick Svitek, State Rep. Ryan Guillen switches to GOP in latest blow to South Texas Democrats. Texas Tribune, 11/15/2021;
[9] Quoted in: Phyllis Zagano, Pope Francis is asking the US bishops to listen to the people. Will they?, Natl. Cath. Reporter, 12/06/2021
[10] John Chrysostom on the Holy Eucharist, 06/12/2012
[11] (a) Eusebius, The Church History, Transl. by P. L. Maier, Kriegel Publ., Grand Rapids, MI, 1999, p. 231. (b) Fernand Mouret, A History of the Catholic Churxch, transl. by N. Thompson, Herder Book Co, London, 1931, p. 362.
[12](a) The presentation of the subject by outsiders is enlightening: Catholic bishops greenlight Communion document, but don’t single out politicians, The Presbyterian Outlook, 11/17/2021 ; (b) BREAKING: US bishops approve Eucharistic document that ignores Communion for pro-abortion politicians, ttps:// ; (c) Prominent US bishop leads Catholic group prayerfully protesting Communion for pro-abortion politicians,
[13] The Mystery Of The Eucharist In The Life Of The Church, USCCB, Nov. 2021
[16](a)Pew Rsrch Ctr, Public Opinion on Abortion, ; (b) Jamie Manson, NBC News, 01/22/2021
[17] D.Fărcaşiu, Limiting Factors of the Pro Life Movement,, 07/03/2014
[18] Bradley Eli, Poll: 7 In 10 US Catholics Don’t Believe In Real Presence, 08/06/2019;’t-believe-in-real-presence
[19] D. Fărcaşiu, A Shattering Experience,, 02/19/2015
[20] (a) ; (b)