Clarification on the USCCB Vote

A vacation is always a good thing, but midway through last week I yearned for a keyboard, anxious to write about an issue involving the Catholic Church that the media is getting profoundly wrong.

In its recent meeting, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to draft a teaching document presenting proper Catholic beliefs regarding Holy Communion.

Basically, that’s all that happened. Oh, but the firestorm it caused!

Due to the probability of including instruction on worthy reception of the Eucharist, whining and moaning immediately commenced. How dare they, cried some, politicize reception of the Eucharist? In foolish arrogance, a California politician evidently dared the Church to deny him communion!

Friends, the reason for the bishops’ vote has nothing to do with targeting President Biden or any other politician claiming to be Catholic but voting in a non-Catholic manner.

The motivation is to address the sobering results of a national survey released maybe two years ago, reporting that only about 30 percent of Catholics affirmed belief in an absolutely foundational Church teaching concerning Holy Communion.

In other words, the Church as a whole has done a grievously bad job of teaching basics of the faith for 50 years or so. The planned document represents long-overdue action to address this situation. The vote should be applauded, and I, for one, look forward to seeing the end result.

Now back to the media outcry.

The only people who consider the vote unwelcome and controversial are those who want the Church to look bad, or those who claim to be Catholic, but pick and choose which tenets of the faith they wish to follow. It is granted and entirely possible that their religious instruction was faulty from the start; hopefully, the document will be a welcomed tool for discussion and correction.

Yes, the document will likely include language regarding worthy reception. And yes, it is considered sinful for a Catholic to receive Holy Communion unworthily.

But the public cannot judge who is, or is not, in such a state of grace. It is enough to know that any Catholic, regardless of status or position, who receives while in an unworthy state and does not seek God’s forgiveness, will face divine consequences.

The bottom line is this: if you’re gonna be Catholic (or any other faith tradition, for that matter), then abide by the beliefs of the faith. All of them. Through their role as teachers and shepherds, that’s all the bishops want to see happen.

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