Top Vatican Cardinal Says Biden Shouldn't Be Denied Communion, Eucharist Not 'Weapon' Cardinal Peter Appiah Turkson attends Palm Sunday Mass celebrated by Pope Francis at St. Peter's Square on April 9, 2017, in Vatican City, Vatican. (Franco Origlia/Getty Images)
By Fran Beyer | Monday, 04 October 2021 02:43 PM
A top Vatican cardinal says President Joe Biden shouldn’t be denied Communion, pushing back at U.S. bishops who want to withhold the sacrament because of Biden’s support of abortion rights.
In an interview with Axios journalist Mike Allen that aired on HBO Sunday, Cardinal Peter Turkson warned against weaponizing the sacrament, saying withholding Communion should only be done in "extreme cases," according to the National Catholic Reporter.
"The Eucharist should not in any way become a weapon," he said in an an interview with Axios that aired on HBO Sunday, NCR reported.
"If you say somebody cannot receive Communion, you are basically doing a judgment that you are in a state of sin," Turkson said, then replying "no" when asked if a "state of sin" applied to Biden.
American bishops are scheduled to meet next month and discuss whether to deny communion to Biden and other Catholic politicians, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., over their support for abortion rights, The Washington Post noted.
In June, the bishops voted 168 to 55 to draft a "teaching document" on the Eucharist, and conservatives hope the final document will provide the justification for withholding Communion from Biden, the Post reported.
The decision to give Communion to practicing Catholics is up to individual priests, and Cardinal Wilton Gregory, archbishop of Washington, has made it clear that he favors giving communion to Biden, the news outlet reported.
Pope Francis was asked last month about the divisive issue, and said the decision should be made from a pastoral point of view, not a political one, the Post noted.
"What should a shepherd do? Be a shepherd and not going around condemning or not condemning," Francis said. "They must be a shepherd with God’s style. And God’s style is closeness, compassion and tenderness."