In regard to Teri Merrill’s commentary in the Open Forum of July 21, about the recent US Catholic bishops annual meeting, I would like to comment on the first and the last paragraphs.
Regarding the first paragraph, the bishops voted to move ahead with drafting a document on the proper and worthy reception of Holy Communion (the “Eucharist” ). This vote was not, as stated in the commentary, aimed solely at denying President Biden Holy Communion. The bishops recognized the need for a teaching document in light of widespread ignorance among the Catholic faithful regarding the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist as well as scandal to the faithful caused by a number of prominent Catholics who receive the Eucharist while publicly ignoring the teaching of the Church they purport to be a member of. The bishops agreed to put this issue on the agenda of their annual spring general assembly quite sometime ago.
Regarding the second paragraph, just who is it that is bringing politics into religion? It is really some of our public officials who prompted the debate about Communion by approaching the altar to receive Communion while supporting policies contrary to Church teaching, not the bishops themselves. These public officials have made it a point to be recognized as being “devout” Catholics when they are asked about the dichotomy between their legislative record and the teachings of the Catholic Church. Why would anyone even want to be a member of a Church with whose teachings you are in so much disagreement? Denying Communion to anyone, public figure or not, is ultimately about protecting the sacredness of the Eucharist, the job of a bishop, and would be an act of charity that is intended to help move the person down the path of holiness and fullness of life in Christ. The bishops do not pass out judgement and scorn, they fulfill their roles as Shepherds of the Church by imitating Jesus in admonishing the sinner in love and charity.
Joanne Seale is a resident of Frederick County