via Getty Images

Right now, controversy is surrounding President Joe Biden, his Catholic spiritual beliefs, and his political opinions. Last Friday, the American bishops’ conference announced that they were drafting “guidelines” on the sacrament of the Eucharist. Part of these guidelines would be to deny communion to politicians who are pro-choice. President Joe Biden is pro-choice and supports a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

The movement for American Catholic bishops to deny communion to President Joe Biden because of his stance on abortion is a controversial one.

While Catholic teachings consider abortion a grave sin, many believe that the Catholic Church shouldn’t directly interfere with political matters. In fact, even Pope Francis himself has chastised the American bishops’ conference actions. “The concern in the Vatican is not to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon,” said Jesuit priest and Pope Francis ally, Antonio Spadaro.

But a conservative faction of the Catholic Church is displeased with Joe Biden’s liberal leanings. Many of President Trump’s policies, after all, aligned more with their own. As president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop José H. Gomez said on the day of Joe Biden’s inauguration, “Abortion is a direct attack on life that also wounds the woman and undermines the family.”

The movement to deny President Joe Biden communion because of his abortion beliefs, however, appears to be mostly symbolic. In the end, the bishops’ conference doesn’t really have the power to do so.

Local bishops have the ultimate power in their individual dioceses to make decisions around the Eucharist. Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., says he will not deny Joe Biden the Eucharist. The Pope also has the power to deny communion–but as we established before, he does not approve of this movement to punish Biden.

On Friday, when asked about the issue of being denied communion, President Biden said: “That’s a private matter and I don’t think that’s going to happen.” “[His faith] is personal to him,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki. He doesn’t see it through a political prism.”

The decision of the bishops’ conference to single out President Joe Biden does, indeed, seem political. More than half of U.S. Catholics, reportedly, support legal abortion. Wouldn’t denying President Biden mean that they should deny every other Catholic who is pro-choice?

Critics of the Catholic Church are angry that the bishops’ conference is spending so much time and energy on publicly condemning the president when they believe they have bigger issues to deal with–like the issue of sexual abuse within the church.

“The Catholic Church protected a bunch of pedophile priests for years, but they’ll deny President Biden communion because he believes Women have a right to Choice?” wrote one angry Twitter user.

“Catholic bishops want to deny Biden communion for supporting abortion rights. But they’re not denying themselves or their colleagues communion after protecting pedophile priests, shuffling them around and allowing them to abuse more children,” wrote another.