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Bishop Hying: Eucharist discussions among bishops should proceed as planned

Many Catholics, says the Bishop of Madison, WI, “are confused when they observe some of our political leaders who profess Catholicism, participate in Mass and receive Communion, yet advance policies inimical to Church teaching.”

Bishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Madison, Wis., wants U.S. bishops to move ahead with a teaching document on the Eucharist and Eucharistic coherence. (Photo: Chris Duzynski)

MADISON, Wisconsin — The planned discussions on Eucharistic coherence at the June meetings of U.S. bishops should proceed as originally planned and not be suspended or delayed as proposed by several cardinals and dozens of other prelates, Bishop Donald J. Hying of the Diocese of Madison said Friday.

In November 2020, U.S. bishops voted to prepare a document that teaches about the centrality of the Eucharist and addresses problems that arise with Catholics whose lives make them improperly disposed to receive Holy Communion due to unforgiven sin. The process was begun by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). A group of bishops led by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington D.C. wrote to Gomez asking that the discussion be postponed.

Given all of this preparation, many of us bishops were surprised and dismayed to discover that a group of fellow bishops recently wrote a letter to Archbishop Gomez, asking him to delay this important and necessary process,” Hying said in a statement Friday. “I express my full support of the original plan and vision to address these significant themes.”

Signed by nearly 70 bishops, the letter to Gomez asked to delay discussions of Eucharistic coherence until the bishops’ conference can discuss the issue in person. The USCCB has held its semi-annual bishops meetings virtually since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Spring General Assembly will take place virtually June 16-18. In a May 7 letter to Gomez, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, urged that “dialogue among the bishops be undertaken to preserve the unity of the episcopal conference in the face of the disagreements over this controversial topic.”

In an interview with Catholic World Report, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone indicated the bishops understand the need to move. “I see Cardinal Ladaria’s letter as affirming what we’ve been doing all along. We’ve been discussing this, dialoguing about it, for at least 20 years,” Cordileone said. “And now I sense a growing sense of urgency among the bishops to do something very clear and strong, that is pastoral and clear teaching about this. So, I think the letter is affirming what our plan is.”

Bishop Hying indicated discussion of the Holy Eucharist is timely, given an often poor understanding of the sacrament among Catholics. “The Holy Eucharist is the very center and life of the Church—the Sunday and daily celebration of the Mass and the gift of Holy Communion nourish all of us with the sacramental gift of Christ Himself on our way to heaven,” Hying said. “The Eucharist is the love and truth of Jesus. Many of our people do not believe or understand these central teachings. Others are confused when they observe some of our political leaders who profess Catholicism, participate in Mass and receive Communion, yet advance policies inimical to Church teaching.”

Debate has sharpened on the issue since President Joe Biden was sworn into office in January. Biden, who describes himself as a devout Catholic, nevertheless advances an agenda with support and funding for abortion. He is one of the most pro-abortion chief executives ever to occupy the West Wing of the White House. Many Catholics have called on U.S. bishops to directly address the topic of such a high-profile Catholic receiving Holy Communion while pushing policies that oppose clear teachings of the Catholic Church on the dignity of human life.

More bishops have been speaking out, with some acknowledging an urgency for action by the bishops’ conference. Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, said Biden “should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic, and acknowledge that his view on abortion is contrary to Catholic moral teaching.” The U.S. bishops, Naumann said, “have the responsibility to correct him. Although people have given this president power and authority, he cannot define what it is to be a Catholic and what Catholic moral teaching is.”

Archbishop Cordileone in May issued a 17-page pastoral letter that called for “a frank and honest reassessment” of the abortion issue, given the more than 60 million innocent lives taken since the 1973 Roe v. Wade court case. “Jesus Christ cannot be separated from His Body; to receive His Eucharistic Body and Blood while repudiating essential doctrines of His Mystical Body is to eat and drink judgment on oneself,” Archbishop Cordileone wrote.

Cordileone cited the writings of St. Justin Martyr on the Eucharist: “No one may share the Eucharist with us unless he believes what we teach is true; unless he is washed in the regenerating waters of baptism for the remission of his sins, and unless he lives in accordance with the principles given us by Christ.” Applied to modern times, Cordileone wrote, “those who reject the teaching of the Church on the sanctity of human life and those who do not seek to live in accordance with that teaching should not receive the Eucharist.”

In a 2020 interview with Catholic World Report, Hying said there is a “crisis of understanding and faith regarding the Eucharist” that has the highest stakes. “My mantra is always if you understand the Eucharist and believe the Eucharist, there’s no way you would not be at Mass every week, if not every day,” Bishop Hying said. “If you truly understood and believe what the Eucharist is, Who the Eucharist is, you would be there.”

If Catholics properly understood the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, they would know Christ’s love demands a reply. “Jesus’ death on the Cross and His Resurrection demands a response from us,” Bishop Hying said. “So that going to Mass, receiving the Eucharist, going to confession, embracing a life of prayer, doing acts of charity; all that in a sense is our response to the graciousness of God’s invitation to us.”

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About Joseph M. Hanneman 101 Articles
Joseph M. Hanneman writes from Madison, Wisconsin.


  1. Bishop Hying concludes: “Jesus’ death on the Cross and His Resurrection demands a response from us.” As a step toward Eucharistic Coherence, perhaps all parishes could even now find room in their weekly bulletins to publish this PRAYER BEFORE MASS, St. John Paul II(National Catholic Register, 5/19-22/2006):

    Eternal Father, we members of your blessed son
    Jesus Christ’s Mystical Body (His Church),
    in prayerful union with other members of His Church
    throughout the world, especially those who are
    suffering or living under oppression, and those
    who desire to go to Mass but are unable to do so;

    In spiritual communion with the intentions and affections
    of The Immaculate Heart of Our Lady of Sorrows on Calvary,
    the Angels and Saints in Heaven, our patron Saints, our
    Guardian Angels—-We all join in offering this Holy Sacrifice
    of the Mass, this unbloody RENEWAL AND EXTENSION of Christ’s
    Sacrifice on the Cross for the following intentions:

    1) To ADORE and worship God the Father, God the Son,
    and God the Holy Spirit and to pledge our love and loyalty
    forever to the God who made us to Know, Love and Serve Him
    in this world and to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.

    2) To THANK Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for opening
    the gates of Heaven by His sacrificial death on Calvary
    and to thank God for all the blessings and graces
    He has bestowed upon us throughout our lives especially
    for the supernatural gifts of Faith, Hope, and Charity;
    those gifts of Truth, Love and Peace which Christ
    promised to leave with us.

    3) We express our SORROW for having offended God
    in any way throughout our lives and offer our prayers,
    works, sufferings, joys and even ourselves, to the Eternal Father
    with this sacrifice of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity
    of His Dearly Beloved Son in atonement for our sins and
    those of the whole world.

    4) Finally, we PETITION the Triune God for the Grace from
    this Eucharist to conform every conscious endeavor of our
    lives to the will of the Father in all things as did Christ.
    We also pray for all persons, places and things—-
    absent, present, living and dead—-for which we are
    bound in conscience or have expressed a desire to pray for,
    especially for an increase in vocations, for peace among nations,
    for the conversion of Russia and for the end
    of the unspeakable crime of abortion. AMEN.”

    • Those bishops who are against a teaching document on the Eucharist and Eucharistic coherence at the June conference use a delaying tactic citing being against a virtual meeting but why, when they know a decision to refuse communion to politicians would be at the discretion of the ordinary. It’s because they themselves lack the courage to stand up for what faithful Catholics believe. I also think the names of the bishops should be published.God help those bishops if Biden dies in office.

    • Yes. Unfortunately, when I recently sent an email to Diocese of Joliet, where I live, I didn’t get an answer at all. I knew better than to hold my breath, though, since none of my correspondence directed to them since the beginning of the “pandemic” was ever replied to…

  2. Bishop Hying, among a growing surge of faithful, presses forward on a clear declaration of the faith regarding communion, “that it’s pastoral not political”. For the good of confused Catholics. Cardinal Cordileone perceives Cardinal Ladaria in favor of a resolution, then adds we’ve been discussing this for twenty years, it’s time to act. This is the outcome of the prayers of the faithful and consequent work of the Holy Spirit. I’m not at all convinced however that Ladaria favors Justice on the issue of refusing communion for errant politicians. Cardinal Ladaria Cardinals Tobin, Cupich who cajoled him are guilty of a false premise. That refers to Ratzinger’s 2002 doctrinal note on the canonical basis of alleged primacy of prudential judgment of local ordinaries, that whatever is decided Ladaria says must be left to the local ordinary. The fallacy is that the local ordinary judges right and wrong, not the Church. A most insidious false premise. The very purpose of Ratzinger’s 2004 Instruction Be worthy to receive Holy Communion was to instruct the bishops in forming their prudential judgment. Not the converse, why McCarrick hid the 2004 Instruction, and why Ladaria’s false premise is a perversion of the truth.

  3. As a devout member of the “lowerarchy” of the Catholic Church, I don’t see why there is any need for a discussion about Church teaching that’s already in place. Why does the hierarchy seek to rehash this subject? Most of us know, having been taught, that receiving the Eucharist while in a state of mortal sin, is not to be done. We must be sincerely sorrowful, confess and receive absolution for mortal sins (those that kill our relationship with God) before approaching the Sacrament of Holy Eucharist. Further discussion just isn’t necessary. The vocation of our bishops is to instruct the faithful on Church teaching. If they still don’t know what that is, why are they bishops?

  4. Prudential Judgment left to the local ordinary is beneficial when exercised with Prudence [the moral virtue of deliberation of the due end of an act]. For example, a Catholic politician may decide to vote in favor of a bill that increases access to abortion, however, in order to prevent passage of another bill that would have far greater evil consequences. A bishop upon consultation with the politician, if informed why he voted, could then make a just judgment. In the instance of long standing promotion of abortion, e g calling partial abortion sacred ground the issue if there is no reversal in their position following consultation the moral issue is clear. A bishop who decides to offer that unrepentant politician communion is guilty of a more severe crime of complicity precisely because of his high office as defender of the faith.

  5. Yes, who are these 60 or so bishops? On the other hand, it is probably more beneficial and certainly more inspiring to spend time with Bishop Hying and co.

  6. God knows if President Biden is worthy to receive Communion. So the bishops want to make a list of who is unworthy to receive Communion. Put my name at the top of the list, for I a sinner.

  7. The rightist conservative Catholics who enable their like-hearted bishops in coming up with a list of people to be banned from receiving communion should come out top in the list for their pharisaical attitude on judging other people as sinners and that they are not!

    • And yet, oddly enough, you yourself make a judgment. Huh. Weird how that works, eh?

      Making judgments about the moral quality of public acts is not only necessary, it’s simply unavoidable. We all do it every day, in situations normal and otherwise.

      Why this is so hard for some people to grasp is a curious matter, but I suspect that for many it really is about politics first (“rightist conservative Catholics”), with Catholic doctrine and practice lagging far behind.

    • People make judgements everyday. It is part and parcel of the God-given human makeup. Right and wrong are judged in courts, we judge how to deal with children, students, good movies-bad movies. We judge the gravity of sin. Public grievous sin that causes scandal and the possible detriment to the sinner’s soul, calls for judgement from those responsible for the salvation of souls. This is indeed an act of charity, that is, charity(love), desires the best for another. Desiring and working for the best for a fellow human being is that of their salvation. That is the ultimate best wish. All the best to you.

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