Communion, Catholics, and Public Life: Where Do We Go From Here?
In June 2021, U.S. Catholic bishops vigorously debated and then voted to proceed with a document on “The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church.” This discussion and decision have generated considerable conflict, confusion, and controversy, especially related to the question of communion for public officials.
This Initiative online dialogue with key bishops and lay leaders will briefly review what happened and what did not, and will then look ahead to the challenges U.S. bishops and U.S. Catholics face in the months to come. This conversation will examine why this matter has affected so many Catholics so strongly, and it will explore the choices facing the bishops, public officials, and the U.S. Catholic community as a whole.
These bishops and lay leaders with differing roles and perspectives will discuss a range of questions including:
- What is the current proposal regarding communion for public officials? What is the process for its development, and what actions will follow?
- What are its origins and current elements?
- What are the USCCB statement’s purposes, limitations, and potential opportunities and dangers?
- Why has this process generated ecclesial divisions, pastoral fears, and public controversy?
- What are constructive ways forward in the current ecclesial, political, and public context?
Kim Daniels, co-director of the Initiative and member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, will moderate the opening conversation and dialogue.
- Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, will open the dialogue with a conversation on themes drawn from his June presentation to the U.S. bishops. Archbishop Pierre has served as the representative of the Vatican and Pope Francis to the U.S. since 2016 and previously served as the papal nuncio in Mexico, Haiti, and Uganda.
- John Carr is the co-director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University and served as director of the Office of Justice, Peace, and Human Development at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for two decades.
- Gretchen Crowe is an award-winning writer and photographer and the editorial director for periodicals at Our Sunday Visitor (OSV). She serves on the editorial board of OSV, which addressed “The bewildering fear of Eucharistic consistency” after the June bishops’ meeting.
- Mollie Wilson O’Reilly is an editor-at-large and columnist at Commonweal magazine. In the Atlantic, she recently wrote “The Real Threat to American Catholicism,” challenging the decision of the U.S. bishops in June.
- Bishop Kevin Rhoades is the bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, and chair of the USCCB Committee on Doctrine. Bishop Rhoades had a leading role at the June 2021 meeting and will have a leading role in developing and presenting the document on the Eucharist at the November 2021 meeting.
- Cardinal Joseph Tobin is the archbishop of Newark, New Jersey, and has been appointed by Pope Francis to the Congregation for Bishops as well as the Vatican’s highest court. At the June meeting, he urged the bishops not to proceed with their proposed document in this way and at this time.
There will also be limited time for members of the audience to submit questions for discussion.
Photo credit: (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)
On July 28, the day of the discussion, all who have RSVP’d will receive an email with a link and step-by-step instructions on how to join the livestream.
This event will be live-captioned. Accommodation requests should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 27. A good-faith effort will be made to fulfill requests.