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Communion debated at national Catholic Bishops conference

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)

Communion, a center point of the Catholic faith, has been hotly debated among bishops since President Joe Biden's inauguration. Now, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference will vote on whether to approve a statement on communion.

The U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference convened in person for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Bishop Shawn McKnight, the Jefferson City Diocese bishop, is present at the conference. Among several action items is a vote to approve a statement about communion.

The statement comes following the controversy surrounding Biden. Some Catholic bishops have stated Biden should be denied communion due to his support for abortion.

Politicians were not mentioned in the public debate on Tuesday, and the conference website says there will be no sweeping statement regarding politicians receiving communion.

"The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion," the website reads. "Each Catholic - regardless of whether they hold public office or not - is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching."

Bishop Kevin Rhoades, who presented the statement at the conference, said public interest in the topic of communion is strong.

"Following the June [U.S. Catholic Bishops] meeting, the committee received the feedback from the regional meetings of bishops, which resulted in well over 100 pages of comments for the consideration of the committee," Rhoades said.

Rhoades said the statement is intended to be an educational tool. The bishop cites a survey, which shows Catholic knowledge of the meaning of communion in the church is low.

Jamie Morris, legislative counsel for Missouri Catholic Conference, told ABC 17 over the phone the purpose of the statement is not political.

"Their main goal with this is to educate the Catholics in the pews," Morris said. "We have studies that the vast majority of Catholics really don't understand or don't believe the Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist."

Biden met with Pope Francis in early November, who has publically said he would never deny anyone communion.

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Hannah Falcon

Hannah joined the ABC 17 News Team from Houston, Texas, in June 2021. She graduated from Texas A&M University. She was editor of her school newspaper and interned with KPRC in Houston. Hannah also spent a semester in Washington, D.C., and loves political reporting.

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