LGBTQ+/Ally Catholics Relieved Bishops Back Away from Communion Bans; Call on Bishops to Focus on “Pressing Moral Issues”

November 17, 2021. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has approved a document that avoids banning Catholic political leaders who support abortion rights or take other stances that conflict with church teaching from receiving Communion. In a vote of 222 to 8, the Bishops Conference has endorsed “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” and also overwhelmingly passed a plan for a three-year campaign to strengthen Catholics’ devotion to the sacrament.

“We are very relieved that our bishops have stepped back from explicitly making Communion a reward for obedience to certain teachings,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director of DignityUSA. “We believe that dealing with pastoral issues by fiat is harmful to individuals, communities, and the church as a whole.”

For the past few months, DignityUSA has helped to lead a campaign called “Bread not Stones,” which has challenged US Catholic bishops to “stop acting like culture warriors and political operatives” and to behave like shepherds and healers. The campaign has included inviting Catholics to submit their reflections on what the Eucharist means to them and their thoughts on whether public servants and elected officials should be denied Communion for supporting policies that conflict with church teaching. The group also held a prayer service and witness at the USCCB meeting in Baltimore.

“It is clear that Catholics view the Eucharist as a sacred gift that should never be used to coerce believers to act against their consciences,” said Duddy-Burke. “We are relieved that the bishops heard the outcry in response to the proposal to use this letter to target leaders like President Biden and Speaker Pelosi and changed direction. Let this be the end of the threats of exclusion.”

Duddy-Burke continued, “Now that there is a plan in place to drive a Eucharistic revival, we hope and pray that the bishops conference will turn its attention to the many critical issues that were not addressed at their recent meetings. What do they have to say about the climate crisis that threatens the survival of so much of creation? About racial justice questions, or how to reorder society more justly as we emerge from the pandemic, which exposed so many inequities? What will they do to urge more Catholics to get vaccinated against Covid, thereby protecting the broader society? These and many other questions should be the focus of our church, and Catholics expect their leaders to address these urgent moral dilemmas. We call on USCCB to focus on the pressing moral issues of our day.”