A Eucharistic document: What the USCCB will be debating and voting on today

Matt Hadro   By Matt Hadro for CNA

Alexey Gotovsky/CNA

Washington D.C., Jun 17, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

On Thursday afternoon, the U.S. bishops are scheduled to debate and vote to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist.

As the bishops meet for their annual spring general assembly, held virtually this year from June 16-18, they will consider whether the conference’s doctrine committee can begin drafting “a formal statement on the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.”

Although some bishops have warned against moving ahead with such a document due to its mention of Communion for Catholic pro-abortion politicians, the proposed outline of the document reveals a broad, comprehensive treatment of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist.

The doctrine committee’s proposed outline covers teachings including the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, a “recovery of understanding the Eucharist as sacrifice,” “the importance of Sunday as a day of obligation,” the need for beautiful liturgies, Catholics living as a “Eucharistic people” in daily life, the Eucharist as a “call to conversion,” and the importance of practicing the works of mercy.

Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend – chair of the USCCB doctrine committee – explained on Wednesday that the proposed Eucharistic document is the fruit of the bishops’ three-year strategic plan “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ, Source of Our Healing and Hope,” approved in November 2020.

The three main sections of the outline draw from Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, that followed the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist. In that document, Benedict described the Eucharist as a mystery to be “believed,” “celebrated,” and “lived.” The three main sections of the USCCB document outline list these three aspects of the Eucharist.

Both Bishop Rhoades and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington on Wednesday said that the proposed document came about for multiple reasons – a chief one being a decline of belief in the Real Presence among Catholics.

The proposed document “isn’t anything brand new,” Bishop Burbidge said on Wednesday, at a press conference following the USCCB proceedings. “It’s what the Church has always taught in the Eucharist.”

The document would aim to reignite “a sense of Eucharistic wonder and awe that in many ways may need to be revitalized,” he said.

Rhoades cited a “convergence” of events that triggered the proposal for the document on the Eucharist, pointing to a poll showing a decline in Catholics’ belief in the Real Presence.

The document would be meant to “help to reignite that faith” and help catechize the faithful on the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist. “But it has to be the whole truth,” he emphasized.

General worthiness to receive Communion – “Eucharistic consistency” – is included as a sub-section in the document outline; the problem of Catholic politicians supporting policies contrary to Church teaching is also mentioned in the introductory note.

The topic of “Eucharistic consistency” was mentioned years ago, both Benedict XVI and by the Latin American bishops (including then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio) in their 2007 Aparecida document, the bishops noted.

“Consequently, Catholic politicians and legislators, conscious of their grave responsibility before society, must feel particularly bound, on the basis of a properly formed conscience, to introduce and support laws inspired by values grounded in human nature. There is an objective connection here with the Eucharist,” Benedict wrote in Sacramentum caritatis.

“Bishops are bound to reaffirm constantly these values as part of their responsibility to the flock entrusted to them,” he added.

Bishop Rhoades on Wednesday explained that although worthiness to receive Communion is just one part of the Church’s teaching on the Eucharist, it is an essential one.

“We want to talk about the whole truth about the Eucharist, and how can you do so without talking about the importance of living what we receive, and being in communion with the faith of the Church?” he said.

“That’s Eucharistic consistency. So, I think we can’t do a full treatment of the Eucharist without talking about that, or teaching about that,” he said.

Yet some bishops have warned against the document’s treatment of who may receive Communion, pushing for an outright delay on drafting the document and arguing that it required an in-person deliberation among the bishops.

In May, some bishops wrote to the president of the USCCB, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, asking that the planned debate and vote on the Eucharistic document be postponed until the bishops can meet in-person. The letter was led by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago.

Archbishop Gomez in response said that the discussion would proceed as originally planned.

Again, on Wednesday some bishops moved to delay consideration of the document, this time by proposing to remove time limits on discussion of the document and arguing that all bishops who want to speak should be allowed to do so.

“We owe this to our people,” said Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski of St. Louis, who introduced the motion. Cardinal Cupich – who originally called for a delay on debate of the Eucharistic document in his May letter to Gomez – on Wednesday supported Rozanski’s motion to allow for unlimited debate.

Other bishops, such as Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas and Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City, noted that the motion to remove time limits was essentially a “delaying tactic” and a “filibuster” on moving ahead with a Eucharistic document.

Thursday’s vote is merely to begin drafting a document, they argued, and the bishops will have the opportunity later on to debate the document’s text once it is approved and written.

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  1. The MEDICAL INDUSTRY for long has trafficked in aborted fetal products in the form of child vaccines that are now required for entry into government (public) schools, soft drinks—and even cosmetics that recall World War II Nazi Germany’s fashionable lampshades made from human skin (as reported by Nuremburg convict, Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich, 1970).

    Speaking of LAMPSHADES, with civilization already in great peril, on the eve of World War I, British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey remarked to a friend: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

    And now speaking of the light of day, still possible in our lifetime, and of LIFE itself, President Biden’s contrary agenda is to:

    …lift the moratorium on aborted fetal cell research, delete the Hyde Amendment and impose tax-payer funded abortion, codify Roe v. Wade, deregulate the abortion pill (Auschwitz miniaturized into a medicine cabinet?), fund international abortion groups, withdraw from the 31-nation Geneva Consensus Declaration (that abortion is not a “right”), and airbrush the LGBT and transgender agenda across the board and at all levels.

    Civilizations come and go, but the Church is here to stay.

    So, what of the “light of Christ” and defense of the human person….USCCB bishops and Catholic laity alike, both, quo vadis? Or, are the Aztecs winning?

  2. “Eucharistic consistency. I think we can’t do a full treatment of the Eucharist without talking about that, or teaching about that” (Bishop Kevin Rhoades chair USCCB doctrine committee). Hopefully for the Church it seems we’re getting somewhere. Especially with the strong voice of Archbishop Joseph Naumann, “The motion to remove time limits was essentially a delaying tactic and a filibuster on moving ahead with a Eucharistic document”. We may not have Cardinals Cupich, Gregory, Tobin, Bishop McElroy and others who disagree to support such an absolutely vital statement. At least it will be the affirmation of required Eucharistic coherence from our faithful bishops. Unfortunately, we’re living within a divided Church, the dissenters leaning toward apostasy. If only Pope Francis would support Rhoades and Naumann, which he actually is obligated as Pontiff to resolve controversy in favor of the Deposit of faith. Eucharistic coherence is clearly consistent with the Deposit. After all, there is precedent insofar as the Pontiff’s record as Archbishop Buenos Aires in the 2007 Aparecida document. Why the radical inconsistency? Is it Zeitgeist? The Holy Spirit is not divided against himself. Certainly my prayer is that he will support Bishop Rhoades efforts and settle this paradigmatic issue.

    • Maybe the game, for some, is less that of the general Zeitgeist than it is precisely that of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel? The Deposit of Faith becomes the “thesis,” apostasy in practice becomes the “antithesis,” and some form of derailed/ongoing synodality becomes the “synthesis.”

      Not Marx, but his predecessor Hegel, with the Spirit being the historical process itself. The right side of history! Not Marx’s dialectical materialism, but Hegel’s dialectical idealism…

      Connect the dots between Friedrich Hegel, Emmanuel Kant, and aspects of the historicist/influential theologian Karl Rahner (his ambiguity about the gifted Immaculate Conception, the Annunciation in the fullness of time, the actual and once-only Incarnation, and the more-than-metaphorical Resurrection.

      No wonder that some would want to vacuum “Eucharistic coherence” of any concrete meaning beyond the overriding Fundamental Option of the 1960s.

      • A good parallel of Hegelian thought and what I call German intellectualism. Dialectic historical transience and Papa Bergoglio’s new epoch. Many of the Jesuits we’re suffering today studied under Josef Fuchs at the Gregoriana [Rahner was a guest lecturer]. Rahner spoke of a spiritual immanence in Man by which religious experience is self realization. There’s overtones in that from Christian philosopher turned Nazi philosopher Martin Heidegger. Heidegger realized we can’t conceptualize being as being found it’s best understanding in Man’s self realization. Fuchs in his treatise Natural Law taught a distinction between the Creator Word and natural law as compared to Christ the Redeemer and a soteriological love that surpassed natural law. That relates to an ongoing dialectic process and this pontificate’s paradigmatic change. What the theological revisionists have lost in all this is the permanence of truth centered in an unchanging, though infinitely dynamic God.

  3. They were willing to write/advance the dallas charter in a time of great need & a call for credibility in response to the abuse crisis…
    They are having a problem writing/advancing a Eucharistis document in a time of great need & a call for credibility in response to the belief crisis…

    And we wonder why people are walking away?

  4. “We owe this to our people,” said Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski …Cardinal Cupich supported Rozanski’s motion to allow for unlimited debate.” This is laughable. When did Rozanski and Cupich ever care about what is owed to their people? This is blowing smoke into the body of prelate’s eyes.

    Both Bishop Rhoades and Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington are on the right track. Rhodes said, ““We want to talk about the whole truth about the Eucharist, and how can you do so without talking about the importance of living what we receive, and being in communion with the faith of the Church?” This is exactly what the baddies are fighting against—I truly wonder which bishops are still Catholic. Back to prayer and fasting mode.

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