Biden, Pope Francis and (some) American Bishops

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A majority of Catholic bishops have expressed their intention of writing policy to prevent those who ‘obstinately persist in manifest grave sin’ from receiving holy communion.

‘Manifest grave sin’ as in supporting abortion rights, which would then include Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. 

Pope Francis and the Vatican have spoken against writing such policy, warning that it would be divisive. But there is a conservative segment in American Catholicism that strongly advocates for it.

To an outsider like me, this seems absurd.

Let me focus on Joe Biden.

Here is a man who has devoted his life to helping others and is now championing large scale policies to relieve poverty, address inequality, revitalize our industrial and technological capacities and reconnect us with the world. His religion has been a fountain of solace and spiritual renewal as he has bravely squared with the problems that life has brought him.

Having Pope Francis on his side, seems not to matter to the bishops pushing for denying him communion. I suppose the bishops are thinking that this will wound Mr Biden so gravely that it will bring him to his knees to beg for the mercy of the church.

No such thing will happen.

Mr Biden will endure the loss. He’s got the character and has been well tested by adversity. Still, he may choose to, now and then, fly directly to Rome to receive communion from Pope Francis in a private Mass. And maybe the Pope will come to the White House also.

The biggest loser in this scuffle will not be Mr Biden or Nancy Pelosi or any American Catholic politician who defends the reproductive rights of women the world over, the biggest loser will be the American Catholic church. They will go on record as having spurned two of the best examples of what their faith can do to always be renewing the fighting spirit.

Bishop myopia and poor judgment on a grand scale is not new to this church. They have a long history of it. Bloody too. Like with the Inquisition.

But somehow they have survived.

Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi will too.

They need only ask themselves, ‘why so narrow a definition of the spirit of the church?’

‘Here we are embodying the spirit of generosity and affirmation of all human beings, regardless of sex or faith, and yet we are targeted to not receive communion.’

And they will grieve and lament the bishops’ decision, all the while knowing, in their hearts and minds, that if God chose to descend on Washington DC to pay a visit, he/she would land on the White House first, and then on Capitol Hill, and visiting for a moment with the two politicians, embrace them and whisper in their ears, ‘thank you for doing my work.’

To the bishops who have so stubbornly worked in denying reality, he would say, ‘Get a life.’

Oscar Valdes

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