Politicization of US Catholic Churches: Hypocrisy of Bishops Exposed

by Eli Mshomi
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The increasing divide over abortion rights has reached a dead-end tunnel lately in America. Despite being the second Catholic president in the history of the United States, the president faces backlash from Catholic churchs’ bishops over abortion rights, manifesting the deep divide that bishops are trying to foster, mostly supporting the Republicans stance.

The drafting of a statement by the conservative-dominated Catholic bishops to stop President Biden and other Catholic politicians from receiving the Holy Communion, a combination of bread and wine considered sacred in churches, is a rebellion, potentially creating a divide within the churches.

The church in any society is the epicenter of human rights, intended to fight poverty. However, the Catholic Church’s agenda of not censuring Republicans for opposing healthcare and childcare suggests that the issue is largely political rather than religious.

After the backlash, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has tried to cover up their blunder, saying that the statement is not meant for any specific politician.

The statement was passed by 168 votes in its favor and 55 denying it. This move demonstrates the deep rift in the US clergy, with some of the bishops calling it the “weaponization” of communion.

The move has even sparked a response from the House Democrats, with at least 60 of them criticizing the move, while Jared Huffman, a House Democrat from California, has threatened the churches with the elimination of their tax exemptions.

 

Catholic Churches Walking Evangelicals Path

Roman Catholic bishops are not ashamed to walk the path of white evangelicals who supported Donald Trump blindly.

Even if the bishops successfully manage to stop Biden from receiving communion, it will not be a national binding. At the end of the day, it would be the responsibility of the individual churches to allow or stop people from attending the mass, and Biden would probably not be stopped.

For instance, Biden was once denied communion in South Carolina in 2019 when he was a presidential candidate, despite the absence of any such policy by the Catholic churches. This is the reason why the president has already said, 

 

“That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s gonna happen.”

(Joe Biden)

The fact that almost two-thirds of US Catholics, according to Pew Research Center, still believe that Biden must be allowed to continue receiving the eucharist contradicts the bishops’ ambitions to stop him from doing that.

Nonetheless, the numbers are even more interesting when seen across the party lines. For instance, almost 87 percent of Democrats while only 44 % of Republicans side with President Biden, depicting the politicization of the issue.

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US Catholic Church Bishops: Not Condemning Republicans’ Bills is a Hypocrisy

When the church becomes the instrument of not sponsoring human rights bills, let’s say voter suppression, systematic racism, healthcare, and childcare, it loses its credibility for the rest of the issues as well.

Had the same bishops talked against the Republican efforts of suppressing the voices of Black people and standing with them in solidarity when they were subjected to other racist issues, this issue would have mattered much.

However, the Republican-inspired bishops need to recalibrate their priorities to direct their energies where it matters the most.

President Biden is well known for his routine attendance at church, whether he is in Washington or his home state of Delaware.

So, snatching away the right to go to mass from him would also be a negation of freedom of speech, according to the US Constitution.

The ultra-conservative behavior of Trump during his presidency is also one of the contributing factors towards the changing tendencies of religious people.

This is not only the case in the United States. In fact, in most parts of the world, the rise of fascism and the populist approaches of ruling people is forcing people to go back to the religions, albeit to the heavily modified versions.

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The statistics also manifest the same. For instance, almost 60 percent of non-Hispanic white Catholic voters are now Republican voters, a mighty shift from 40 percent back in 2008.

Combined with this, almost 75 percent of evangelicals are Republicans, who were exploited by Trump and are likely to be done so again.

Final Thoughts

The issue will be equally relevant to all the other pro-abortion Catholic politicians, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

These hardline churches are unable to adjust them as per the cultural upheaval lately. This transition from modernism to post-modernism in the whole world, and led by the US-based movements, including civil rights movements and feminism, has penetrated the conservative mindsets.

These minds are now facing an identity crisis, where their lack of recognition by the younger generations is coercing them to walk a dangerous path.

The statement from bishops is also inclined towards the rising anti-pope sentiments in the Catholic churches. That the US and the Vatican City politics are intertwined is also evident from the fact that churches in the US have often tried to cancel Pope Francis, portraying their will towards the shift in conservatism. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken met the pope after the bishops’ statement signaling the severity of the issue if everything goes as Bishops planned. The increasingly liberal inclination of the pope, just like President Biden, is bound to face further backlash from the Catholic Church soon.

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