US bishops overwhelming endorse Eucharistic statement, revival campaign

Shannon Mullen   By Shannon Mullen for CNA

 

Bishop-designate Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minn. speaking Nov. 16 during the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Fall Assembly in Baltimore. / Shannon Mullen/CNA

Baltimore, Md., Nov 17, 2021 / 10:55 am (CNA).

The U.S. Catholics bishops overwhelmingly voted to approve a new document on the Eucharist Wednesday that highlights the sacrament’s indispensable role in the life of the Church.

The vote, coming during the annual fall assembly of the the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore, was 222 to 8, with three abstentions. Voting was anonymous and conducted electronically.

The product of months of debate and revisions, the text avoids any overt references to whether bishops and priests ought to deny Communion to public figures at odds with Catholic teaching on abortion and other moral issues.

Instead, the document aims to initiate a new emphasis on catechizing Catholics about the meaning and importance of the Eucharist, in response to what many bishops see as a worrisome decline in belief in the sacrament as the real presence of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.

In an interview with CNA prior to the vote, Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver explained that the document seeks “to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.”

In addition to approving the document, titled “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church,” the bishops approved a strategic plan for a three-year eucharist revival campaign. The vote was 201 to 17 in favor of the revival campaign, with five abstentions. The initiative is to include the development of new teaching materials, training for diocesan and parish leaders, the launch of a dedicated revival website, and the deployment of a special team of 50 priests who will travel the country to preach about the Eucharist.

The campaign will culminate with a National Eucharistic Congress in June 2024 in Indianapolis, Bishop-designate Andrew Cozzens of Crookston, Minn., announced Wednesday. Cozzens, who is heading the revival effort as chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis, said the congress would be the first of its kind in the United States in nearly 50 years. Previously, Cozzens said, such national eucharistic events were held once a decade.

The two sections of the 30-page Eucharist document are “The Gift,” which centers on the Eucharist as a gift from Christ through his incarnation, death, and resurrection, and  “Our Response,” which focuses on gratitude for the gift of the Eucharist, the role the laity play in regards to reception of the Eucharist, and the importance of the Eucharist in conversion.

“The Lord accompanies us in many ways, but none as profound as when we encounter him in the Eucharist,” the document states.

“When we receive Holy Communion, Christ is giving himself to us. He comes to us all in humility, as he came to us in the Incarnation, so that we may receive him and be one with him,” says the text.

While the document does not provide any criteria for denying the sacrament to someone not in communion with Church teaching, the text does explain the differences between venial and mortal sins, and says that a Catholic in a state of mortal sin should not receive the Eucharist until they have gone to Confession and received absolution.

“While all our failures to do what is right damage our communion with God and each other, they fall into different categories, reflecting different degrees of severity,” the document states.

“There are some sins, however, that do rupture the communion we share with God and the Church,” the document states.

“As the Church has consistently taught, a person who receives Holy Communion while in a state of mortal sin not only does not receive the grace of the sacrament, he or she commits the sin of sacrilege by failing to show the reverence due to the Body and Blood of Christ.,” the document explains.

The document states “the reception of Holy Communion entails one’s communion with the Church in this visible dimension,” and restates the text of the 2006 document from the bishops concerning Catholics in public life.

“If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, however, he or she would seriously diminish his or her communion with the Church,” the new document states, repeating the bishops’ 2006 guidance.

“Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation,” the guidance states, “would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain.”

This is a developing story.


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5 Comments

  1. A remarkable achievement of unanimity. Yes. A remarkable achievement of coherence? No. A remarkable failure to address the one issue that counts. A Catholic politicians vote to support and to advance abortion. Voting for abortion was condemned by then CDF prefect Ratzinger and repeatedly affirmed in added documentation later by John Paul II. The weaseled way out for pro abortion Catholic politicians [and lest we forget the very large Catholic laity vote for abortion candidates, and those women who will perceive this vote as tacit permission to conscientiously abort] was that their bogus claim to hold fast to Catholic doctrine is recognized in the document, acknowledging their right to vote for abortion and right to receive the Eucharist. The singular ‘guidance’ for receiving the Eucharist in the document is if the person obstinately and publicly repudiates Catholic doctrine. They should not present themselves leaving it to the offending person. Shockingly, the document does not provide any criteria for denying the sacrament to someone not in communion with Church teaching. President Biden, speaker Pelosi, Dick Durbin and a host of others all claim belief in Catholic doctrine. It’s a scrap of paper that the bishops should and likely will have remorse for approving and for voting in favor [indeed the only mention of voting was for the document]. Darkness has won.

  2. The vote margin is indicative of this document’s value. I dare say Joe Biden himself is satisfied with the results. At least our complacent bishops can say they have done something.

  3. Was this document really so bad that only 8 disliked it enough to vote against it? It seems like the very model of a wet squib to me, destined for a quick descent into oblivion.

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