A network of U.S. Catholic reform groups held a demonstration outside the Baltimore hotel where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are meeting to push back against attempts to deny Communion to pro-LGBTQ and pro-choice politicians.
About 50 people attended the “Bread, Not Stones” rally in Baltimore sponsored by the Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR) network, of which New Ways Ministry is a member. The attendees were there to express “disapproval with what they describe as efforts by bishops to politicize the Eucharist,” according to the National Catholic Reporter.
Today, the bishops will vote on a document on the Eucharist after limited public conversation yesterday. The document, formed in the wake of a commission on how the bishops should engage President Joe Biden, does not include references to specific politicians. But the debate surrounding it this year has been problematic, thus propelling reform-minded Catholics to speak out.
Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, explained at the demonstration:
“‘We are here today standing for all the Catholics, the vast majority of Catholics, who cherish the Eucharist and who do not want to see this central sacrament of our church weaponized for culture war purposes. . .We are here in an effort to prevent the bishops who lead the Catholic Church in the United States from denying Communion to any of our Catholic elected leaders or public servants because their conscience leads them to support pro-choice or pro-equality policies in our pluralistic society. . .Communion should not be coercion.'”
Jamie Manson, president of Catholics for Choice, told Religion News Service:
“‘We take this action on behalf of the majority of faithful Catholics who believe that there is no place for partisanship, shame, or division at the table of the Eucharist. . .The Eucharist is the central unifying sacrament of our church, and the very idea of using Jesus’s body as a tool of punishment and intimidation against pro-choice Catholics is a grievous betrayal of everything Jesus taught us.'”
Attendees at the rally engaged in a prayer ritual organized by the Women’s Ordination Conference that focused on what Eucharist means to Catholics, and later included chants and song related to Communion as the group processed past the bishops’ hotel .
Whether the document is approved today or not, it can be hoped that the question of Communion denials in relation to U.S. politicians will be put to rest. But, if it persists, more pro-LGBTQ Catholics will need to join the movement to stop politicizing the Eucharist over a person’s support for equality.
—Robert Shine, New Ways Ministry, November 17, 2021