U.S. bishops stress need for Catholics to deepen understanding of Communion

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Communion was a big topic in the Catholic Church this year, after the U.S. bishops initiated a discussion about the sacrament at their June meeting and then overwhelmingly approved a statement on it five months later.

But in the months in between, there was plenty of speculation about what the statement might say, specifically about denying Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Ultimately, the document did not call out these Catholic political leaders. Instead, it highlighted the seriousness of the sacrament frequently described as a gift to the church.

Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, told the bishops Nov. 16 during their fall assembly in Baltimore that the statement, "The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church," is addressed to all Catholics in the United States and "endeavors to explain the centrality of the Eucharist in the life of the church."

The bishop, chairman of the bishops' Committee on Doctrine, which drafted the statement, also said this work was meant to be a theological contribution to the bishops' upcoming eucharistic revival "by providing a doctrinal resource for parishes, catechists and the faithful."