WASHINGTON — A South Carolina Catholic priest denied Holy Communion to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on Sunday because of the candidate’s support for legal abortion.
Father Robert Morey, pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church in the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, denied Biden Holy Communion at Sunday Mass for his support of legal abortion, The Florence Morning News reported Monday.
“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Father Morey said in a statement he sent CNA Oct. 28.
“Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that. Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching,” the priest added.
According to The Florence Morning News, Father Morey was a lawyer for 14 years before becoming a priest, practicing law in North Carolina and working for seven years for the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy.
Biden, a former senator from Delaware and the former vice president of the United States, was campaigning in South Carolina over the weekend, The Associated Press reported.
Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law states: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”
Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote a memorandum to the U.S. Catholic bishops in 2004, explaining the application of Canon Law 915 to the reception of Holy Communion.
The memorandum stated that “the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin.”
The case of a “Catholic politician” who is “consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws” would constitute “formal cooperation” in grave sin that is “manifest,” the letter continued.
In such cases, “his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist,” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.
Then, he continued, when the individual perseveres in grave sin and still presents himself for Holy Communion, “the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it,” Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.
“As a priest, it is my responsibility to minister to those souls entrusted to my care, and I must do so even in the most difficult situations,” Father Morey said.
While not supporting taxpayer funding of abortion as much as other presidential candidates, Biden’s campaign platform would seek to “codify” Roe v. Wade.
At a Planned Parenthood event this summer, Biden promised to “eliminate all of the changes that this president made” to family-planning programs, according to Politico, and said he would increase funding of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
In recent months Biden reversed course on the Hyde Amendment, once supporting the policy that protects taxpayer dollars from funding abortions and now opposing it.
Father Morey’s statement concluded: “I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers.”
This story is developing.