A poll by a Catholic advocacy group released on Tuesday found that, among Catholics who attend Mass regularly, the vast majority say that Catholic politicians who take policy positions contrary to Church teaching “create confusion” among the faithful.
The poll, conducted by CRC Research on behalf of the advocacy group CatholicVote, found that 83% of Catholics who regularly attend Mass say public officials with stated positions contrary to Church teaching “create confusion and disunity.” Nearly three-quarters, 74%, of regular Mass-goers say that these officials should not present themselves for Communion.
The poll was conducted from June 1-8, 2021, and surveyed 600 respondents. Respondents were nearly evenly split along party lines, with 49% saying they supported former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, compared to 51% who supported President Joe Biden.
Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, said in a statement on Tuesday that “Catholic politicians who advocate for policies considered ‘gravely immoral’ create confusion and discord among believers.”
“Catholics’ concern about the flouting of Catholic social teaching by public leaders is less about politics and more about the integrity of the faith, along with reverence and respect due the Holy Eucharist,” Burch said.
“This polling data should bolster the confidence of Catholic bishops as they prepare to discuss how to recover an understanding of the beauty and richness of the sacrament – among all Catholics. The data is very clear: Bishops have an obligation to act,” he stated.
On Wednesday, the U.S. bishops will meet virtually at their annual spring general assembly. On Thursday, they are scheduled to deliberate and vote on whether to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist.
Although the deliberations are expected to include the topic of worthiness to receive Communion – including for pro-abortion Catholic politicians – the vote itself will simply focus on whether to begin drafting the document on the Eucharist.
The document, a proposed outline of which CNA obtained several weeks ago, provides a comprehensive overview of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist. It covers topics such as the Real Presence, Sunday as a holy day, Mass as sacrifice, the importance of the works of mercy, and “Eucharistic consistency” – worthiness to receive Communion.
“The document will include the theological foundation for the Church’s discipline concerning the reception of Holy Communion and a special call for those Catholics who are cultural, political, or parochial leaders to witness to the faith,” the USCCB doctrine committee stated in the draft document proposal.
In the poll, 72% of respondents said the bishops “should discuss” admission to Communion “for Catholic public officials who promote grave moral evils.”
Among Catholics who attend Mass regularly, 88% “believe it is important for Catholic bishops to teach and lead others in matters of the faith,” CatholicVote reported. Meanwhile, 82% “believe public officials who identify as Catholic but openly advocate for policies hostile to Church teaching are hypocritical.”
Biden is only the second baptized Catholic to hold the office of president of the United States. He frequently discusses the influence of his Catholic faith, but ran on a pro-abortion policy platform that called for taxpayer-funded abortion.
He recently submitted a budget request to Congress that did not include the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding of abortions in Medicaid. Biden’s budget request was the first since President Clinton’s in 1993 to not include Hyde Amendment provisions. The amendment has been passed into law each year since 1976 as a rider to budget bills. In 1993, an amended version of Hyde was eventually included in appropriations bills and signed into law.
The CatholicVote poll also found that 91% of Catholics who regularly attend Mass are eager to do so again as Churches re-open from COVID closures or restrictions.
The issue of distributing Communion to Catholic politicians who support permissive legislation on grave evils such as abortion and euthanasia has come under newfound debate recently. Individual bishops have been speaking out in recent months about admission to Communion.
In May, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield in Illinois said that the issue “has taken on heightened urgency with the election of President Biden, a Catholic who promotes the evils of abortion, same-sex marriage, and transgenderism.”
According to canons 915 and 916 of the Code of Canon Law, he said, “a person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or to receive the Body of the Lord’ and that those ‘who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion’.”
Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco wrote in a May 1 pastoral letter that any Catholic cooperating with the evil of abortion should refrain from receiving the Eucharist – especially Catholic public officials who advocate for abortion. “You are in a position to do something concrete and decisive to stop the killing,” he wrote, addressing those politicians. “Please stop the killing.”
In an April 14 column on Eucharistic coherence, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver wrote that “the Eucharist is a gift, not an entitlement, and the sanctity of that gift is only diminished by unworthy reception. Because of the public scandal caused, this is especially true in the case of public officials who persistently govern in violation of the natural law, particularly the pre-eminent issues of abortion and euthanasia, the taking of innocent life, as well as other actions that fail to uphold the church’s teaching regarding the dignity of life.”
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, in a Feb. 1 online forum, spoke against denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians.
“I do not see how depriving the president or other political leaders the Eucharist, based on their public policy stance, can be interpreted in our society as anything other than a weaponization of the Eucharist and an effort not to convince people by argument, and by dialogue and reason, but rather, to pummel them into submission on the issue [of abortion],” he said.