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Catholic bishops to debate communion at national conference, vote likely Wednesday

When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops convene this week, they will tackle the polarizing topic surrounding communion.

DALLAS — When the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops convene this week they will tackle the polarizing topic surrounding the Eucharist. A majority of bishops agreed in June to draft a teaching document on Eucharistic coherence.

"What it really refers to is a continuity and consistency of approach from diocese to diocese on how to treat Catholic politicians who are in open defiance of core church teachings," said Professor Matthew Wilson, of SMU,  who specializes in religion and politics.

You don't have to look far to realize who is at the center of this discussion: President Joe Biden. Biden is a devout Catholic who is also pro-choice.

"All the American bishops agree they wish the president were pro-life. They all agree abortion is wrong, that's not what this debate is about," Wilson said. "This came up when John Kerry was running for president in 2004 and it has come up with Nancy Pelosi." 

RELATED: Biden receives Communion in Rome amid debate in US

Right now, it is at the bishop's discretion who receives the sacrament and many believe that won't change Wednesday. The Eucharist is generally meant for those who come prepared and are in good standing with the Catholic Church. 

Wilson told WFAA that the Biden's position as president puts him in the public eye and therefore gives him huge public sway.

"By their example, they could lead other Catholics astray by suggesting this is a permissible moral stance," said Wilson.

Many argue the conference lacks any true authority and practically nothing may change. President Biden will likely still find Catholic venues to get the sacrament.

Others say the decision is less about who can receive but rather reaffirming why it should be received. Most are hopeful this teaching document is ratified without entering partisan politics.