The US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) clashed online over whether to draw up a teaching document on politicians who support abortion.
The Post reported that the issue is dividing US bishops, though they voted overwhelmingly on Friday to create a document on the meaning of the Eucharist, 168-55 with six abstentions.
The vote tally announced Friday was 168 bishops in favor, 55 opposed and six bishops abstaining. Biden, the second Catholic to serve as USA president, has alarmed many bishops by supporting same-sex marriage and abortion rights, views they say are antithetical to church doctrine. This movement is driven by the extremely conservative wing of the Catholic Church.
Bishop Donald Hying of Madison, Wisconsin, said during Thursday's debate that he speaks with many people who are confused by a Catholic president who advances "the most radical pro-abortion agenda in history", and action from the bishops' conference is needed.
"They're looking for direction", said Hying.
Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego argued against the drafting of the document, saying the move would run counter to the bishops' goal of uniting Catholics through the sacrament.
"It would be impossible to prevent the weaponization of the Eucharist", McElroy said.
Conservative Catholics in the USA have been building momentum against their liberal counterparts for some time, attempting to deny communion to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and then-Vice President Joe Biden for their pro-choice policies as early as 2013, when Francis was inaugurated as pope.
"That's a private matter, and I don't think that's going to happen", Biden responded before scurrying off the stage.
The chairman of the USCCB doctrine committee, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, said that no final decisions have been made on the contents of the document. The organization Students for Life held rallies in seven cities on Thursday to urge the bishops to vote "yes".
While Biden has said that he personally opposes abortion, he has also said that he doesn't think he should impose that position on Americans who feel otherwise. Only the local bishop or the pope can determine who can and cannot receive the sacrament of Communion.
The idea to produce a document was first developed by a working group commissioned by Conference of Catholic Bishops president José H. Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles.
"The choice before us at this moment", Gregory said during Thursday's debate, "is either we pursue a path of strengthening unity among ourselves or settle for creating a document that will not bring unity but may very well further damage it".
The USCCB has identified the fight against abortion as its "preeminent" priority.
The document will now be drafted by the doctrine committee of United States bishops. "Are you concerned about the rift within the Catholic Church and are you concerned about this action?"
In 2004, the conference published a statement that said individual bishops could decide whether to deny Communion to Catholic politicians who supported abortion rights. In 2019, only about one third of American Catholics surveyed by Pew said they believed the church's teaching known as "transubstantiation" - or the idea that during communion, the bread and wine become the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
Carr speculated some bishops made have been persuaded by assurances the proposed statement "will not include policy or guidance on denying communion to the President or other public officials", adding, "it seems that the future statement is expanding in scope and shrinking in specific application to public officials".