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USCCB president: Eucharistic document seeks to deepen ‘awareness,’ ‘amazement’

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Washington D.C., Jun 21, 2021 / 18:15 pm

The U.S. bishops are seeking to deepen “awareness” of the Eucharist with their new teaching document, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference stated on Monday.

“As bishops, our desire is to deepen our people’s awareness of this great mystery of faith, and to awaken their amazement at this divine gift, in which we have communion with the living God,” Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference (USCCB), stated on Monday. “That is our pastoral purpose in writing this document.”

At their annual spring meeting last week, the U.S. bishops voted decisively to begin drafting a teaching document on the Eucharist.

Of those bishops who voted, nearly three-fourths, 168 bishops, voted in favor of drafting a formal statement on “the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.” Fewer than one-quarter, 55 bishops, voted against the motion, while six bishops abstained from voting.

Archbishop Gomez said the proposed document will focus on “the beauty and power of the Eucharist.”

“The Eucharist is the heart of the Church and the heart of our lives as Catholics,” he said. “In the Holy Eucharist, Jesus Christ himself draws near to each one of us personally and gathers us together as one family of God and one Body of Christ.”

Following the bishops’ vote, the USCCB doctrine committee will begin drafting the document, with regional meetings and consultations to follow, Gomez explained. The bishops will consider the full document at their fall meeting in November.

A proposed outline of the document, advanced by the USCCB doctrine committee, included various sections on the Church’s Eucharistic teachings, including the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, Sunday as a holy day, the importance of the works of mercy, and worthiness to receive Communion.

It is being advanced as the bishops also voted to launch a three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative, which will begin in 2022 and is planned to culminate in a national Eucharistic congress in 2024.

The USCCB’s working group to deal with Biden’s election recommended that the bishops issue a teaching document on the Eucharist. The group also cited previous plans of the conference to launch a three-year Eucharistic Revival initiative, as well as the USCCB’s 2021-2024 strategic plan “Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ.”

A teaching document would supplement these two initiatives, the working group said.

Such a document, while addressed to all Catholics, was needed to clarify the problems of Catholic public officials advocating policies contrary to Church teaching on grave moral issues, the working group said.

Biden, a Catholic, supports taxpayer-funded abortion and the Equality Act, and has advanced pro-LGBT policies through his administration.

The proposed document includes a subsection on “Eucharistic consistency,” or worthiness to receive Communion. The Church teaches that Catholics conscious of serious sin since their last confession cannot approach to receive Communion.

Archbishop Gomez on Monday asked Catholics to pray for the bishops as they draft and consider the document.

“I invite everyone in the Church to pray for the bishops as we continue our dialogues and reflections. I pray that this will be a time for all of us in the Church to reflect on our own faith and readiness to receive our Lord in the Holy Eucharist,” he said.

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