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U.S. bishops approve Communion guidelines after debate on Biden's eligibility

U.S. bishops to vote on meaning of Communion
U.S. bishops to vote on meaning of Communion 03:11

American Catholic bishops voted to adopt a document about Holy Communion and who should receive the sacrament, an issue that was in part inspired by President Biden's election. Mr. Biden, a devout Catholic, supports the right of women to have an abortion, which the Catholic Church opposes.

The vote was 222 to 8, with three abstentions.

The bishops applauded after the vote, which did not specifically mention the president or any politicians. The bishops, from across the U.S., voted on a document outlining the meaning of the sacrament of Communion and who should receive it. It was "Action Item #14" on the agenda: "Does the body of bishops approve the statement The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church?" The vote required a two-thirds vote of the conference membership to pass. 

Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann, one of the leaders who led effort to produce the document, said before the vote that it's the bishops' responsibility to "care for the souls of these politicians" and that while they should acknowledge the difficulty of public service, the church leaders should "not be afraid" to let politicians know how "serious" this issue is. 

The document offers guidelines, rather than imposing a mandatory national policy, so decisions about who may receive Communion will be left up to individual bishops and archbishops. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, has made clear that Mr. Biden is welcome to receive Communion at churches in the archdiocese.

Mr. Biden met with Pope Francis last month at the Vatican where Mr. Biden said the pope told him he was a "good Catholic" and should keep taking Communion.

The pope's apparent approval of Mr. Biden's practice of receiving Communion came even as American Catholic bishops continued to debate whether Catholic politicians like the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who support abortion rights, should be barred from Communion if they don't embrace church doctrine, which opposes abortion.

The president attends Mass nearly every weekend and has said that his Catholic faith is central to his public life. He has known Pope Francis since the start of his papacy and has said that they bonded over the death of his son, Beau Biden.

Ed O'Keefe and Kristin Brown contributed to this report.

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