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U.S. bishops to vote on whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should receive Communion

U.S. bishops to vote on meaning of Communion
Catholic bishops to vote on meaning of the Eucharist, which could bar Biden due to abortion views 03:11

Update: The bishops voted to approve the document on Communion guidelines. Read the latest here. Our earlier story is below.

At the semi-annual meeting of American Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis' top envoy to the United States urged bishops to listen ahead of a debate on adopting a document about Holy Communion that was sparked in part by the election of President Biden.

"The Holy Father says a church that teaches must be firstly a church that listens," Archbishop Christophe Pierre said.

Catholic bishops from across the country are set to vote Wednesday on a document outlining the meaning of the sacrament of Communion and who should receive it.

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 visit and the pope's apparent encouragement to continue receiving Communion came as American Catholic bishops continue debating whether Catholic politicians like the president and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who support abortion rights, should be barred from Communion if they don't follow church doctrine which opposes the procedure.

Certain bishops have said they're trying to clarify the importance of Communion amid recent polls showing many Catholics don't fully understand or believe in the sacrament.

San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and other supporters of the document being voted on have said in the past it's not directed at any particular Catholic but the election of President Biden "gave a stimulus" to having bigger conversations about the topic.

"The election of President Biden, a church-going Catholic, who also takes positions that are direct attacks, direct attacks on human life, gave more impetus to this," Cordileone told CBS News' Ed O'Keefe.

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

Father Anthony Figueiredo, a CBS News papal contributor, believes what American bishops are doing runs counter to the pope's wishes.

"It's a very different vision to some of the bishops, who want to use the Eucharist as a political football. Pope Francis says no to a political football," Figueiredo said.

Archbishop Cordileone is among the bishops who have said they would deny Communion to the president because of his stance on abortion rights.

The White House did not respond to requests for comment. When the president was asked about the bishops' debate while at the Vatican, he would only say it's a private conversation.

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