Psaki Dodges on Catholic Bishops' Communion Guidelines, Says Biden's Faith Is 'Personal'

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holds a press briefing at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2021.
(Sarah Silbiger/Reuters)

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Monday dodged questions about the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ vote to draft guidelines that could eventually bar public figures who express support for abortion, like President Biden, from receiving the Eucharist.

Asked about Biden’s reaction to the vote during a press briefing, Psaki punted, saying the president’s faith is “personal.”

“Well Joe Biden is a strong man of faith,” Psaki said. “As he noted just a couple of days ago, it’s personal. He goes to church, as you know, nearly every weekend.”

“It’s personal to him,” she added. “He doesn’t see it through a political prism and we’re not going to comment otherwise on the inner workings of the Catholic Church.”

Asked if the bishops’ decision would make Biden reconsider his public support for abortion, Psaki reiterated that the president’s faith is “personal.”

“It’s something that has helped guide him through some challenging moments in his life and that’s how many Americans see their faith as well. Not through a political prism, so I would suspect he will continue to attend church as he has for many, many years.”

Psaki attempted to move on to the next question as a reporter asked if Biden realizes his stance on abortion runs contradictory to the teachings of the church.

“I think we’re going to move on because I’ve just answered that and it’s personal,” she said, calling on another reporter.

The proposal to draft the guidelines passed on a 168-55 vote Friday during an annual spring meeting of the conference.

The Bishops discussed whether to include a statement on the church’s teaching on abortion in the guidelines for receiving Communion; the doctrinal committee ultimately agreed to advance the document on the Eucharist that will include stipulations on who should be eligible to present themselves to receive Communion.

Some bishops, including San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, believe that political officials who express public support for abortion should be refused the sacrament.

“The eyes of the whole country are on us. If we don’t act courageously, clearly and convincingly on this core Catholic value, how can we expect to be taken seriously on another matter?” Cordileone said, according to the Washington Post.

Cordileone, who is House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D., Calif.) archbishop, has previously advocated to deny Communion to Catholic public figures who support abortion.

After the vote, 60 Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House issued a “statement of principles,” that claimed refusing Communion to Democratic lawmakers over their support for abortion is a “weaponization of the Eucharist” and contradictory.

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