4 Bishops on the Eucharistic Revival and Holy Communion

Archbishops Aquila and Naumann, and Bishops Cozzens and McManus, share their thoughts on the Eucharistic Revival as well as the controversy of Catholic elected officials who advocate for legal abortion.

Clockwise, from upper left: Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas; Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver; Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts
Clockwise, from upper left: Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens of Crookston, Minnesota; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas; Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver; Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts (photo: Register Composite)

Bishop Andrew Cozzens, head of the Diocese of Crookston, Minnesota, is chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis and is leading the three-year National Eucharistic Revival that kicked off on June 19, the Solemnity of Corpus Christi. I asked him and three other diocesan bishops to share their thoughts on the Eucharistic Revival as well as the controversy of Catholic elected officials who advocate for legal abortion.


Bishop Andrew H. Cozzens, Bishop of Crookston, Minnesota

[Commenting on the Eucharistic Revival] In the fall of 2019, a Pew study revealed that 70% of Catholics don’t believe in Jesus’ Real Presence in the Eucharist. This study motivated the bishops, especially Bishop Robert Barron, to bring forth a proposal for a Eucharistic revival in the U.S. 

In January 2020, I was chair-elect, and a part of those conversations. But COVID hit, and the bishops were unable to move forward for a time, but now we are moving ahead with an effort to revive Eucharistic faith, which we hope will affect the Church at every level.

… This first year will be a diocesan year, a lifting up of the Eucharistic life of the diocese. We’ll be working to motivate diocesan leaders by training thousands of Eucharistic missionaries who we hope will volunteer to lead in parishes.

The second year will be a parish year, which will include small groups, adoration hours and catechesis around the Mass. We will help equip the faithful to know and love Jesus, and to share that love with others. 

The culmination of the revival will be a National Eucharistic Congress to be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, July 17 to 21, 2024, which we anticipate will draw 80,000 to 100,000 Catholics. In the past such events were held every five years. We hope the Congress will be an event that marks this generation, like World Youth Day in Denver did for my generation …

I would invite everyone to visit our website for details: www.eucharisticrevival.org.

[Suggestions on making the Eucharist central to one’s life] First, go to daily Mass. I have tried to find a saint who did not go to daily Mass, but I haven’t been able to find one. As Pope St. John Paul II has said, the Eucharist is the secret of my daily life, and it gives meaning and understanding to all of my daily activities. When I live a Eucharist-centered life, I can offer my struggles and difficulties in union with Jesus to the Father, and my daily life can be part of the redemption of the world. St. Paul saw his sufferings as part of the redemption of the world through participation in the Eucharist.

Next, realize that Eucharistic life cannot be lived without adoration. The Mass is not enough. If we can’t go to daily Mass, we should at least have a weekly Holy Hour.

[On the impact of the Eucharist in his own life] When I was in seminary, I read Fulton Sheen’s book on the priesthood, “The Priest is Not His Own.” It was an argument why the priest should make a daily Holy Hour, a practice I’ve attempted to do throughout my priesthood. It has carried me through trials and difficulties, and led me to a deeper faith rather than to discouragement or bitterness. It has been a wonderful source of grow through those difficult times.


Archbishop Samuel Aquila, Archbishop of Denver, Colorado

[On the Eucharistic Revival] I think it is important because it will help people come back to faith in the Eucharist. While it is true that some people don’t understand the teaching of the Church as rooted in John 6, I think others understand it and do not believe. Regardless, it is critical to bring back more people to the belief that when they receive the Eucharist, they are receiving the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity body, blood, soul and divinity. The Eucharist is a gift he gave to us to nourish us in holiness and to make ourselves a total self-gift to the Father as Jesus made himself a total self-gift to the Father.

[On the reaction to his asking Colorado legislators who vote “pro-choice” to abstain from receiving the Eucharist] Like anything, there were two sides. Some were strongly supportive, appreciated what we said, calling them out on their actions. Others accused us of politicizing the issue. That is the furthest thing from our intention. We are concerned about the salvation of the souls of these Catholic legislators. Is Jesus Christ Lord of their minds, hearts and wills? Have they surrendered everything to the Lord? If they did, they’d be pro-life across the board.


Bishop Robert J. McManus, Bishop of Worcester, Massachusetts

[On working with the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops to develop a new document on the Eucharist] We decided to create that document around the time President Biden took office. People thought we were crafting it to embarrass him and other Catholic politicians who held positions in opposition with the teachings of the Catholic Church. But the main thrust of the document was the importance of approaching the sacrament with proper moral worthiness and recovering the idea that the Eucharist is the gift of Christ’s own Body and Blood to help us become saints. We cannot approach the Eucharist casually.

We called it The Mystery of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church. We drew from the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI, one of the best theologians of the 20th and 21st centuries, that the Eucharist is not something we create, but something that God has given us, so we need to celebrate it worthily. 

The document does talk about Catholics in public life, but we include not just those in politics, but also those who have public roles in such institutions as hospitals and schools. They must live a morally correct life to be worthy of reception of the Eucharist. If they publicly and repeatedly promote policies that go against the teachings of the Church, they have placed themselves outside of communion of the Catholic Church. 

One’s communion with the Church is not just interior and spiritual, but public. While no one but God can judge if another person is in the state of grace, public actions can be judged in accordance with the teaching of the Church and we can assess if such actions are mortally sinful.


Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, Archbishop of Kansas City, Kansas

[On Father Robert Morey of St. Anthony Church in Florence, South Carolina, refusing to give Joe Biden Holy Communion at Mass because of his pro-abortion stance.] I think he was acting on and following his conscience. I believe the president has the responsibility not to present himself for Holy Communion. When Catholics receive the Eucharist, they are acknowledging the Real Presence of Jesus, and also belief in the teachings of the Church. President Biden doesn’t believe in the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life, and he should not put the priest in the situation where he has to decide whether or not to allow him to receive the Eucharist. He should know that after 78 years as a Catholic.

[On whether he’d give Biden communion] I don’t think I’ll ever be in that situation; I don’t anticipate him coming to Mass in Kansas and coming up to me to receive Communion.

I do believe that his bishop has a responsibility to dialogue with him about this issue. What he is supporting is a serious evil. I don’t know the disposition of his mind and heart, but his act of supporting legal abortion is wrong.