60 Catholic Democrats Urge Bishops to Not Block Joe Biden From Communion Over Abortion

Sixty Catholic Democrats have penned a letter urging the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States not to deny President Joe Biden Communion because of his abortion views.

"We believe the separation of church and state allows for our faith to inform our public duties and best serve our constituents," the letter reads. "The Sacrament of Holy Communion is central to the life of practicing Catholics, and the weaponization of the Eucharist to Democratic lawmakers for their support of a woman's safe and legal access to abortion is contradictory."

Congressional Democrats continued, "No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure, and denying rights and dignity to immigrants."

The letter comes after the group of bishops overwhelmingly voted to draft a statement on the sacrament of the Eucharist, also known as Holy Communion, on Friday.

The decision, aimed at the nation's second Catholic president, was approved by a vote of 73 percent in favor and 24 opposed during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Biden, who has regularly attended Mass throughout his life, has embodied a liberal Christianity less focused on sexual politics and more on racial inequality, climate change and poverty.

Joe Biden Communion Catholic Democrats Bishops
President Joe Biden and Jill Biden attend services at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle prior the 59th Presidential Inauguration ceremony on January 20, in Washington, D.C. Catholic Democrats are urging bishops not deny Biden of Communion as conservative bishops make a political push against the president for his abortion views. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

"To pursue a blanket denial of the Holy Eucharist to certain elected officials would indeed grieve the Holy Spirit and deny the evolution of that individual, a Christian person who is never perfect, but living in the struggle to get there," the 60 Democrats wrote.

The list of signers include Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Joaquin Castro, Marie Newman and Ted Lieu, among others.

Biden has faced growing pressure from reproductive rights activists calling on him to be more vocal in his support for abortion rights as state legislatures across the nation have introduced more than 500 abortion restrictions in the past five months.

The Supreme Court, with its conservative majority, has also agreed to take up a case on a Mississippi law that bans most abortions at 15 weeks. The case could potentially challenge the constitutional rights established in Roe v. Wade.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which includes 433 active and retired bishops, can issue guideline statements but the power to decide who can or cannot receive Communion ultimately lies for the local bishop or the pope.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, has made it clear he does not support denying Biden Communion during his installation next month. He has warned that moving forward with a formal statement on the meaning of Communion would not bring unity.

"The choice before us at this moment is either we pursue a path of strengthening unity among ourselves or settle for creating a document that will not bring unity but may very well further damage it," Gregory said during Thursday's debate.

An official spokesperson from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declined Newsweek's request for comment.