Less than three months after the formation of a controversial working group to deal with President Joe Biden, the nation’s Catholic bishops have disbanded the group, which produced a public rupture among the U.S. hierarchy in its approach toward the nation’s second Catholic president.
According to two bishops familiar with the process, the work of the group is now complete and the group’s proposal to produce a document on the question of Communion will be addressed by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Doctrine.
Chieko Noguchi, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, declined to comment.
The group, originally announced on Nov. 17, met virtually on two occasions. As NCR first reported last month, its 10-person committee did not include Biden’s local bishops in Washington, D.C., or his home state of Delaware.
The output of the group was twofold: first, a contentious Inauguration Day statement by bishops’ conference president Archbishop José Gomez that enumerated the areas in which Biden’s political positions did not match Catholic doctrine, specifically on abortion and LGBTQ issues. The statement was a stark contrast to Pope Francis’ message to Biden the same day.
Secondly, the group proposed a document outlining church teaching on the Eucharist, “including the fact that our relationship with Christ is not strictly a private affair.” That proposal will now be addressed by the doctrine committee, currently chaired by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana.