Nearly 60 House Democrats signed a document opposing the Catholic church’s plan to deny the sacrament to elected officials who support abortion rights.
In a “Statement of Principles” released on Friday, the lawmakers led by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.; Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, and Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., described the vote by Catholic bishops in favor of a proposal to deny some lawmakers the right to participate in the tradition as “weaponization of the eucharist.”
The document states that government “has a moral purpose” and noted that the co-signers are committed to Catholic principles such as reducing poverty and increasing access to education and healthcare.
They also said they support a separation of church and state, noting lawmakers have not been denied access to the sacrament for other stances that clash with the church’s teachings.
“No elected officials have been threatened with being denied the Eucharist as they support and have supported policies contrary to the Church teachings, including supporting the death penalty, separating migrant children from their parents, denying asylum to those seeking safety in the United States, limiting assistance for the hungry and food insecure and denying rights and dignity to immigrants,” they wrote.
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., called the Catholic church “hypocrites” for not seeking to deny former Attorney General William Barr communion for expanding use of the death penalty in a tweet on Friday.
“You are being nakedly partisan and you should be ashamed. Another reason you are losing membership,” he wrote.
The statement came in response to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops voting 168-55 with six abstentions in favor of drafting a document to examine the “meaning of the eucharist in the life of the church,” earlier on Friday.
The bishops debate surrounding the eucharist comes as President Joe Biden, just the second Catholic to hold the office, proposed a healthcare plan that would expand access to contraception and abortion and restore funding to Planned Parenthood, during his campaign.
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