As some US bishops advocate levying de facto sanctions on President Biden and other Catholic politicians for their support of legal abortion, the Holy See’s distinct, but veiled skepticism over a Communion clash has taken a marked leap in volume, with the church’s lead doctrinal official warning that the push would be “misleading if [it] were to give the impression that abortion and euthanasia alone constitute the only grave matters of Catholic social teaching that demand the fullest level of accountability on the part of Catholics.”

Dated Friday, 7 May, the message came in a letter from the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Spanish Cardinal Luis Ladaria SJ, to the USCCB President, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles. Whispers has obtained the three-page missive, which was shared with the body of bishops over the weekend at Ladaria’s behest. (As this piece goes to press, the text was similarly leaked to the Jesuit-run America magazine and Catholic News Service, the USCCB-owned wire.)

With the bench slated to vote next month on empowering its own Doctrine Committee to craft national guidelines on “Eucharistic coherence” on the part of public officials – and a few of its top conservatives urging an officeholder’s support for abortion to disqualify them from receiving Communion – in his letter, the CDF chief expresses several stark reservations, leading with one apparently made by Rome during the 2019-20 ad limina visit: namely, that a “national policy” would “only” be useful “if this would help the bishops maintain unity.” 

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