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November 1, 2021

Catholic Faith, Communion, and Public Life

Voices in the United States and a Report from the Vatican

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This dialogue came two weeks before the United States Catholic bishops will decide on a major statement on the Eucharist and two days after Pope Francis and U.S. President Joe Biden met at the Vatican. The proposed United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) statement has generated division and controversy regarding its potential call for denial of communion to Catholic public officials who support policies which advance abortion. The bishops will also launch a major Eucharistic Revival for the Catholic Church in the United States. Beyond the bishops themselves, who should be heard in these discussions? Who has been left out? What are key elements of an effective Eucharistic Revival effort, and who can help contribute to its success? How does the meeting between Pope Francis and President Biden shape the context for this?

In July 2021, the Initiative hosted a civil and substantive dialogue on this topic with the bishop chairman in charge of drafting the statement, a cardinal who opposed the effort, and three lay people with varying views on the best way forward. This dialogue continued and broadened this discussion in advance of the bishops’ vote.

The dialogue began with an overview and context from a respected journalist who has covered the bishops’ discussions and who reported from the Vatican on the meeting between Pope Francis and President Biden. The conversation then considered how the people of God live out the Eucharist in our lives, including our public lives. This conversation included a Latina theologian who has written on eucharistic revival in a pandemic, a woman religious who leads a ministry to vulnerable women and children, and a Catholic leader who is African American and a respected advocate for human life and racial justice.

John Carr, founder and co-director of the Initiative, moderated the dialogue. He served for more than two decades as a leader in USCCB’s justice and peace efforts.

Resources

View a list of articles, books, podcasts, and other resources for this dialogue.

Photo credit: (CNS/Gregory A. Shemitz)

Participants

Sr. Mary Bader, D.C.

Sr. Mary Bader, D.C.

Sr. Mary Bader, D.C., leads St. Ann’s Center for Children, Youth, and Families, founded 160 years ago to care for vulnerable mothers and babies, families, and children in the Washington, DC, community. She formerly served as the principal at Mother Seton Academy in Baltimore.

Carmen Nanko-Fernández

Carmen Nanko-Fernández

Carmen Nanko-Fernández is a professor and the director of the Hispanic Theology and Ministry Program at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She is a past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS) and recently wrote on “Real presence in a time of ongoing pandemic” (2021).

Gloria Purvis

Gloria Purvis

Gloria Purvis is the host of the Gloria Purvis Podcast at America Media. She is a consultor with the USCCB Committee on Religious Liberty and served on the National Black Catholic Congress’ Commission on Social Justice, the Maryland Catholic Conference’s Respect for Life Advisory Board, and the Pastoral Council of the Archdiocese of Washington. She previously was a host on EWTN’s Morning Glory radio show.

Christopher White

Christopher White

Christopher White is the Vatican correspondent for National Catholic Reporter (NCR) who will report from Rome on the October 29 meeting between Pope Francis and President Biden. He has covered the USCCB communion debate for NCR and previously was the national correspondent for Crux.