This week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to accept the proposed Eucharist document titled “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church” during their session on Wednesday, November 17, 2021, with a 222-8 (3 bishops abstained) vote, meeting the required two-thirds majority needed for the vote to pass.
The vote indicates there were some bishops who appeared to have hesitations and be against the document in June who now voted in favor of it. The vote taken in June, regarding if the document should even be moved forward, was 168-55. Perhaps the issue in June, causing many to vote against the document, was regarding the speculation that it would directly address if pro-abortion politicians such as President Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi could receive the Eucharist or should be denied. The increase in support for the document appears to stem from the elimination of such mention.
The approved document ignores mentions of denying the Eucharist to anyone, rather, instead it focuses on the Real Presence in the Eucharist. It focuses on nothing new. Additionally, it also speaks of the need for the Eucharist to be used as a tool for evangelization. However, it is unclear how the bishops intend for the Eucharist to be used as a tool for evangelization and sharing the Truth of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist if the document does not address the very thing dividing many Catholics. One cannot use the Eucharist to teach the truth when the truth is ignored within that document.
The document also begins by mentioning the COVID-19 pandemic, closure of parishes, and the concern of the bishops that the closures caused many Catholics to become comfortable in a life without the Sacraments. Although, many Catholics predicted the shutting down of Mass during the pandemic would lead to such response and sent the wrong message that the Eucharist was not essential. It seems that the document now begins by trying to repair the damage done by the Mass closures.
The Eucharist document highlights two specific areas of focus. “At this particular moment for the Church in the United States, with its many challenges, we would like to reflect on Christ’s gift of himself in the Eucharist and our response to that gift.” However, in addressing our “response to that gift”, the bishops ignore the response regarding perpetual mortal sin and public figures promoting policies causing others to commit mortal sin.
Throughout the “response to that gift” section, the bishops promote having an attitude of thanksgiving, participating in the Holy Mass, worship in Eucharistic Adoration, and even in the public sphere….although it stops short of addressing public officials. It tip toes around the issue of worthy reception of the Eucharist by vaguely hinting at it with statements such as “the person who shares worthily in the Eucharist is enabled more and more to live the new law of love given by Christ” and “the personal and moral transformation that is sustained by the Eucharist reaches out to every sphere of human life. The love of Christ should permeate all of our relationships: with our families, our friends and our neighbors. It should also reshape the life of our society as a whole. Our relationship with Christ is not restricted to the private sphere.” It continues and walks the line of public officials by stating “lay people who exercise some form of public authority have a special responsibility to embody Church teaching in their service of the common good….to receive in truth the Body and Blood of Christ given up for us, we must recognize Christ in the poorest, his brethren” – once again stopping short of addressing public figures who directly oppose Church teaching without apology.
The most ironic part of the document to me, however, is the statement “God has not only called us out of our sinful indifference to do whatever we can to contribute to the coming of the Kingdom; through Christ he has given us the grace we need to do this.” However, it appears the bishops have found their content in such a place. The dancing around the elephant in the room document will do nothing to encourage those who have left the Church because of the indifference of Church leaders toward the Joe Bidens of Catholicism. It does nothing to reassure the faithful laity that Church leaders are willing to take a stand and not only protect the sacredness of the Blessed Sacrament, but also to do what they must to ensure the laity are not receiving the Eucharist in mortal sin. The bishops certainly should know about “sinful indifference” when it comes to pro-abortion Catholics. The document, perhaps well-intended at the beginning of the year, is a swing and a miss – resulting in a major strike out.