Holy Communion: Latest flash point in the American Catholic Church

On Thursday, July 22, The Scribbler Publishing Group Podcast will delve into the American Catholic bishops’ recent controversial decision to consider a Holy Communion ban on U.S. politicians who are Roman Catholics and support women’s right to abortion.
Participating in the podcast panel, which will be streamed live at 7 p.m. on Facebook (facebook.com/thescribblerbertramdesouza), and rebroadcast on scribblergroup.com, are Monsignor John Zuraw, chancellor of the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, vicar for Pastoral and Educational Services and pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Niles; Barbara Walko, director of the Office of Religious Education and Evangelization; Steven Krueger, president of Catholic Democrats and a Eucharistic minister who has served on his archdiocesan and parish pastoral councils; and Juliana Boerio-Goates, the volunteer RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) coordinator and a Eucharistic minister at her parish. She previously served on her archdiocesan pastoral council.
I and fellow journalist Cynthia Rickard will serve as hosts.
Viewers who wish to call in to the live broadcast with questions or comments should download the free Discord app at Discord.com in advance of the program. Instructions for using Discord are available on the Discord website. Instructions on how to call in to the podcast will be posted on the Scribblergroup Facebook page the night of the broadcast.
The bishops voted overwhelmingly June 17 to “issue a teaching document on the beauty and power of the Eucharist,” in the words of Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. But the document being proposed is not as benign as Archbishop Gomez makes it out to be.
Indeed, the Associated Press in a dispatch from Vatican City went to the heart of the issue with this: “Conservative U.S. Bishops have been clamoring for clear directives against giving Holy Communion to U.S. political figures who are Roman Catholics and support women’s right to abortion. Vatican teaching forbids abortion as a grave sin. This campaign has put the spotlight on [Democratic President Joe] Biden, a Catholic who has said that while he personally opposes abortion, he supports abortion rights.”
The Associated Press portrayed the June 17 vote as the go-ahead to craft a document laying out their line on the Communion-politician issue. The wire service also noted that in May, Pope Francis’ top official on doctrinal orthodoxy “had urged the bishops to think the matter through thoroughly and aim to keep divisions to the minimum.”
Why would the hierarchy of the American Church take on such a divisive issue while Catholics are grabbling with several other serious concerns, including:
• The child abuse by clergy scandal that continues to roil many parishes.
• Declining attendance at Sunday Mass and an increase in the number of non-practicing Catholics.
• An urgent need for Catholics to be heard on an array of social justice issues, including the ongoing attempts by Republican legislatures and governors to make it more difficult for black Americans and other minorities to vote.
That question will be the foundation of the podcast.
A video of the bishops’ meeting was posted on Youtube. The segment focusing on the debate over Holy Communion can be accessed at this link, starting at time marker 27:30: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eG2gAvpEPCQ&list=PLpTzvCOJa7DDpDCk-LYiQX91XEfMynjIN&index=5

Bertram de Souza
Latest posts by Bertram de Souza (see all)