Who are the US bishops pushing Communion-denial efforts?

By Christopher White, 11 June 2021
Communion hosts. Image: Diocese of Parramatta.


The leading prelates backing such efforts have a history of opposing Pope Francis’ approach to pastoral life

When Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the disgraced former papal nuncio to the United States, released an unprecedented and soon discredited letter in 2018 alleging Pope Francis’ complicity in covering up for former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s history of abuse, San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone came to Viganò’s defence.

Despite Viganò’s shocking call for Pope Francis’ resignation, Cordileone was joined by a number of U.S. bishops who bolstered the testimony of the former nuncio. Among them, Denver Archbishop Samuel AquilaArchbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted and Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, all of whom issued personal statements or gave interviews echoing Cordileone’s praise of Viganò as a man of faith and integrity.

Today, those same bishops are also driving the controversial efforts aimed at pressing the U.S. bishops’ conference to draft a document that will have far sweeping effects to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who support pro-choice legislation. When the U.S. bishops meet virtually June 16-18, they will vote on whether to proceed with drafting a document on the “meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the church,” a proposal championed through a series of pastoral lettersmedia appearancespersonal articles and social media campaigns by the aforementioned bishops.

Yet the manner in which the debate among the U.S. prelates has played out — and the medium in which the body of bishops will hold this debate — has come under scrutiny in recent weeks, including by long-time former staffers at the U.S. bishops’ conference and high-ranking Vatican officials who see the rushed debate as a stark departure from Pope Francis’ call for dialogue.

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Christopher White is National Catholic Reporter (NCR) national correspondent. His email address is cwhite@ncronline.org. Follow him on Twitter: @CWWhite212.

This article appears in the Bishops, Biden and Communion feature series. View the full series.

With thanks to National Catholic Reporter (NCR) and Christopher White, where this article originally appeared.


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