Joe Biden denied Communion at Mass during campaign stop in South Carolina

Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden speaks Oct. 26, 2019, at the Second Step Presidential Justice Forum at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C. Biden attended morning Mass Oct. 27 at St. Anthony Church in Florence and was refused Communion by the pastor, Father Robert E. Morey, over Biden's support for legal abortion. (CNS photo/Sam Wolfe, Reuters)

FLORENCE, S.C. (CNS) -- Former Vice President Joe Biden attended the 9 a.m. Mass at St. Anthony Church Oct. 27 and when he presented himself to receive the Eucharist was refused by the pastor.

"Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden," Father Robert Morey wrote in a statement responding to queries from the Florence Morning News. "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."

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At the heart of that teaching is Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law which states that holy Communion should not be given to two groups of persons: those who are excommunicated or interdicted, and those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin."

[Related: Should politicians be refused communion?]

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The issue of Catholic politicians supporting abortion has been addressed at every level of the Catholic Church. In 2004, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote a memo on "Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles."

In it he stated: "Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), 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."

"This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of holy Communion passing judgment on the person's subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person's public unworthiness to receive holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin," Cardinal Ratzinger wrote.

[Mr. Biden's] stance on abortion has changed over his career.

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In his statement, Father Morey offered his prayers for Biden.

"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," he stated.

Biden, campaigning for his 2020 bid for president, was in South Carolina Oct. 26-27 attending a town hall meeting in Florence and a justice forum in Columbia. He identifies himself as Catholic and attends Mass at St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Greenville, Delaware.

His stance on abortion has changed over his career. He initially opposed the use of taxpayer money to fund abortions. In June, however, he reversed his position on the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of Medicaid funding for abortion. In an Oct. 5 tweet, he wrote: "Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, and we must fight any and all attempts to overturn it. As president, I will codify Roe into law and ensure this choice remains between a woman and her doctor."

Father Jay Scott Newman, pastor of St. Mary Church in Greenville, expressed support for Father Morey in an email to The Catholic Miscellany, newspaper of the Diocese of Charleston.

"As a canon lawyer, my own conviction is that Catholic politicians who support abortion do fall under the exclusion described by Canon 915 and that Father Morey arguably has the law on his side," he said. "Moreover, the law does not restrict to the diocesan bishop the decision to exclude from Communion someone who fits either category of Canon 915, so Father Morey did not exceed his authority."

"Perhaps the best analogy to this matter is the decision of several bishops during the struggle for civil rights to exclude from holy Communion those Catholic politicians who continued to oppose full integration for African Americans," Father Newman continued. "The archbishop of New Orleans, for example, was widely applauded for his courage in taking that step."

Vince Killoran
2 weeks ago

Pathetic. Another right-wing move in their culture war. The last few popes gave communion to heads of state who supported abortion rights. Pope John Paul II gave communion to Tony Blair and Cherie Blair, as well as to Rome Mayor Francesco Rutelli. At a Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral in 2008 celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI, Pro-Choice Catholic politicians Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and Rudy Giuliani received the sacrament. Italian politician Nichi Vendola has also taken the Eucharist at a Mass celebrated by Benedict.

Then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's claim that denial of communion was "not a sanction or a penalty" is disingenuous. Communion is the center of our faith; how can denial of it be viewed as anything other than a sanction &/or a penalty?

Nora Bolcon
1 week 6 days ago

And we wonder why there are no more Catholic Democrats? No we don't. Truthfully, the reason I won't vote for Biden is that he has been allowing church to dictate too much of his stands, and especially those on women's rights and supports. I still won't vote for him because he is only changing his stand to get votes from women but I don't think he really believes that women should have the right to make the decision how their own uterus' should be governed.

This pastor is definitely punishing Biden publicly and intentionally so he can look important. Just another Traddy gone wild!

There is no connection between restrictive abortion laws and lower abortion rates in any country in the world where these laws exist. There is a definite connection between non-restrictive abortion laws and lower abortion rates every where in the world where these laws exist, and even more so when we pair them with laws that give women easy and free access to birth control and our church has been aware of these facts for over a decade. The U.S. has one of the lowest abortion rates in the world and South America has the highest because the U.S. has easy access to abortion and birth control and South America has the strictest laws against abortion and difficult access to birth control, The U.S. has currently a lower abortion rate than when abortion was illegal and a crime in our country.

Therefore this pastor is actually supporting the increase of abortion by his stand and Biden is actually supporting the decrease of abortion rates in the U.S. with his refusal to support the Hyde Amendment. But once again our pastors prove what Twain stated in the past "No amount of evidence will convince a fool."

Ellen B
1 week 6 days ago

What makes me shake my head is that I've never heard of a priest being denied communion for molesting a child. But let a politician say that a woman should have authority over her own body & that's the bridge too far for these men. The politicizing of the church & cherry-picking issues has turned so many away. This is why I support removing tax exempt status from all religious bodies.

Nora Bolcon
1 week 6 days ago

Yeah - that is so True! Ahhh the hypocrisy!

rose-ellen caminer
1 week 5 days ago

Child molesting priests however grave their sin[ or illness?] have not publicly justified the sexual abuse of minors or called for its legalization.If they did, they too would be denied communion.
All sins can be forgiven,and only God knows who is in a state of mortal sin.That has nothing to do with the issue of politicians promoting the legalization of what the Church recognizes as a grave moral evil.By promoting it, they undermine the Church as they are unwillingly but nevertheless, causing harm to souls by their clout [of influencing peoples beliefs about abortion; normalizing it in the minds of people; the banality of evil] and by their power; supporting and passing laws allowing the killing of even sentient capable of suffering human beings.It's not a woman's only issue; its a humanist issue; those sentient -capable -of- suffering -humans in the womb being killed, include males.

consilia karli
1 week 4 days ago

Fr. Morey cited Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law which states that Communion should not be given to those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave
sin." Meanwhile not only were the pedophile priests not excommunicated and deprived of receiving Eucharist for their grave sins against young souls and bodies the church arranged for them to continue to consecrate and distribute the Eucharist. Did that not desecrate the sacrament?

consilia karli
1 week 4 days ago

Fr. Morey cited Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law which states that Communion should not be given to those "who obstinately persist in manifest grave
sin." Meanwhile not only were the pedophile priests not excommunicated and deprived of receiving Eucharist for their grave sins against young souls and bodies the church arranged for them to continue to consecrate and distribute the Eucharist. Did that not desecrate the sacrament?

Alan Mitchell
2 weeks ago

I wonder how many his fellow culture warriors Fr. Morey has refused communion to for their persistent support of the grave sin of the death penalty.

J Jones
1 week 6 days ago

My thought exactly. https://www.live5news.com/2019/06/12/sc-inmates-wait-death-row-state-works-find-drugs-required-execution/

John Walton
1 week 6 days ago

The death penalty is still a matter of "prudential judgment" -- perhaps you would like to peruse a copy of the "Catechism of the Catholic Church" which Bergoglio still has not re-written.

John Orsulan Jr
1 week 6 days ago

Alan...In the past 45 Years maybe a few hundred or a Thousand Or two Murderers and Rapists among others have died through the Death Penalty. In the last 45 Years, 50-60😭Million Babies have been Aborted...Get your Priorities Right!😞 God sees and hears Everything...God is Great

sheila gray
2 weeks ago

This priest has a lot of nerve. No wonder the pews are virtually empty!!! A big mistake, in my humble opinion. Women feel less and less served by this male-dominated culture everyday.

Mike Macrie
2 weeks ago

A number of years back, my son left the Catholic Church over the Church Rule you must be married inside the Catholic Church. His wife was non-Catholic and all she asked was to be married where she grew up over a beautiful lake setting in the Adirondacks. They had agreed to raise their Children Catholic and were attending the Pre Cana classes when they were told they must be married inside the Church. Well they were married by a Presbyterian Minister at the Lake setting and that’s how the story goes with the Catholic Church. A few years back I told this story to our Parish Priest and his response was don’t you know the Catholic Church does everything in its power to turn people away.

Stephanie Hampton
1 week 6 days ago

Thanks, Mike. His Holiness Pope Francis is trying to swing the doors wide to include everyone, yet these crusty conservatives are holding these doors firmly shut. Clericalism means it is a a closed shop with only them and daily Mass goers inside. Papa Francisco has written that the Eucharist is not a "prize for the perfect"; here this one priest is using the Host as a blunt political instrument.

Lala Blossoms
1 week 6 days ago

The couple made a choice. If they wanted a Catholic sacramental marriage then you marry inside a church. The choice of wanting a wedding in a certain location was a choice and they were willing to sacrifice Catholic matrimony for that choice. The Church didn't do anything to them. It wasn't important enough for them. The path is narrow, this is in the bible. The wedding in the Church is symbolic beyond someone's ideal of a dream wedding. They were willing to humble themselves in many ways but not that one. Why should the Church weaken and bend accordingly over something so material?

John Orsulan Jr
1 week 6 days ago

Sheila...Do You Approve of Abortion?😞

sheila gray
1 week 3 days ago

I “approve” in a woman’s right to choose whether or not to be a Mother. I have two children who are 4 years apart. I had three “spontaneous abortions” between them...! And cried after each one.

Sha'Pearl Jones
1 week 6 days ago

"Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord." 1 Corinthians 11:27. Actually, Sheila, this good and holy pastor in South Carolina did Uncle Joe a favor from further endangering his soul and from causing scandal. By doing so, he was also protecting the Sacrament. Those in a state of mortal sin must refrain from receiving until they have confessed and repented. God bless this pastor and I would to God that we had more in the clergy who were willing to stand tall and loudly proclaim, THUS SAYS THE LORD!!!

Mary O'Neill
2 weeks ago

This is more than pathetic. It is shameful that Joe Biden should be refused the grace, the gift of Christ in the Eucharist.

John Orsulan Jr
1 week 6 days ago

Abortion is more SHAMEFUL!😭

Joseph Fiala
1 week 6 days ago

I am sorry to say to you Mary, that this was exactly what was needed to be done. It is not pathetic, it is being just toward God. And this is not my opinion. 1 Corinthians 11:27 -- St Paul says, "Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cop of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body ad blood of the Lord." So, Fr Muroy was saving Mr Biden from this sin. There is nothing political here and Fr Muroy really wanted to avoid this confrontation completely. The priest can not and should not try to judge everyone's actions and always give someone the benefit of the doubt that the person coming to Communion has repented. However, Mr Biden is a very public official who has repeatedly promoted abortion publicly. This itself has caused untold amount of harm in causing probably millions of good Catholics to think that they can receive Holy Communion while they strongly support abortion on demand. Mr Biden had taught people to be confused about their Church teachings. The vast majority of Catholics do not take public stands on central issues of the Church, and they do take such stands repeatedly, so a priest cannot be aware of the thinking of the vast majority of Catholics at Mass. Mr Biden is the exception, and he needs to choose between the Church and his repeated public stand on abortion. Holy Communion is not just a boring symbol of everyone being united in a meal. And this will cause many more people to walk into the Church that takes a solid stand on this issue than people who walk away. That church will be packed in the coming weeks. Those who leave will be walking away from Jesus Christ, everlasting life, and the best things they can ever have in this life.

Sha'Pearl Jones
1 week 6 days ago

"Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord." 1 Corinthians 11:27

Elena Di Benedetto
2 weeks ago

Denying Communion to politicians, whether Democrat or Republican, is a bad idea and bad pastoral practice. For if you deny the sacrament to those who support abortion, then you must also deny it to those who support the death penalty, which is also a life issue. How about those who don't support programs to help the poor? Or refuse to help refugees and migrants? How about those who don't support "Laudato Si," which is, after all, an encyclical? Where does it end?

Besides, a priest has no idea what the state of a person's soul is when the person presents himself or herself in the Communion line. As we were taught in our theology studies, the person may have repented of any sins and gone to confession immediately before Mass. You have no idea.

Finally, as Pope Francis has said, the Eucharist "is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak."

Jim Lein
2 weeks ago

Amen. Very good points.

John Orsulan Jr
1 week 6 days ago

Elena...His views on Abortion and LGBTQ ISSUES are grossly outside RCC TEACHING. Thank God a Clergy Member followed Canon Law and Refused Holy Communion to Him. God is the Greatest!!😃 Thank You Jesus, John

John Orsulan Jr
1 week 6 days ago

Elena... Nothing You said has any Relevance to the 50-60 Million Babies that have been Aborted since Rowe V Wade was inacted. Do You know what they call the place where they keep the Baby Body Parts at Planned Parenthood? >>> "The Nursery"😞 Shameful...God sees and hears Everything...God is Great!😃

Jim Lein
2 weeks ago

What of those who call themselves pro-life but are for cutting supportive government programs for pregnant women and the new life developing within? These programs are more effective in reducing abortion rates than laws outlawing abortion. Just calling oneself pro-life means little.
Sad narrow-minded priest, it seems.

Michael Bindner
2 weeks ago

Joe needs to explain both Roe and Dignitatis Humanae to the local bishop. Letting it hang in pluralism does not move the needle. Explain how Roe relates to all civil rights law and how overturning it restores Plessy.

Christopher Lochner
2 weeks ago

One is on a very slippery slope when Communion is denied. Reception of Communion then becomes politically based or, more likely, power based. Important "bad" people receive but not the unimportant sinner. Father should be silent, offer the Host, and leave it, as it should be, up to God. And not make it about his own glory. Again, these guys love to play politics with everything including the Host. He's disgusting and certainly not a man of God.

Stephen Shore
1 week 6 days ago

You made some good points until that last sentence. I honestly don't know why civil, intellectual discourse cannot be made these days when debating very debatable and arguable positions.

Of course I do know why - because both sides of the political and cultural spectrum give zero credence to those who have the audacity to disagree with their positions.

Kind of sad where we have gone with all of this....

Robert Lewis
1 week 6 days ago

I agree with you about the last sentence, but the priest IS lacking in humility, and he IS "playing politics," and that IS disgusting.

Christopher Lochner
1 week 5 days ago

I offer my sincere apologies for the last sentence and to the good Father. Seriously, I cannot judge him as a person (but can opinionate on his actions). I crossed the line over into toxicity and am truly sorry.

consilia karli
1 week 4 days ago

Such priests should wear MAGA hats at mass so that "sinners" in the congregation can switch to a line with a Eucharistic minister, All the publicity Father Morey invited when outing an "excommunicated catholic" candidate is akin to providing "dirt" on a political opponent.. Meanwhile Bide was virtually silent.

consilia karli
1 week 4 days ago

Such priests should wear MAGA hats at mass so that "sinners" in the congregation can switch to a line with a Eucharistic minister, All the publicity Father Morey invited when outing an "excommunicated catholic" candidate is akin to providing "dirt" on a political opponent.. Meanwhile Bide was virtually silent.

James Riley
1 week 6 days ago

To refuse a person Communion after he or she comes to worship is un-Christian; also "let he who is without sin throw the first stone..." or deny Communion for that matter. Plenty of room here for this priest, Fr. Robert Morey, to join the not-too-select organization "priests who are creeps"--that organization is not just for sexual predators.

Sha'Pearl Jones
1 week 6 days ago

You need to crack open the Bible. You'd be surprised what you find. "Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord." 1 Corinthians 11:27

Peter Schwimer
1 week 6 days ago

Father. Father, Father... why did you feel the need to answer questions from the media. Questions that were nobody's business but yours?
Canon 915 , who is to judge? You? Me? The man in the moon? If the clergy dont stop shooting themselves in the foot, there will be no one left. Like ducks quacking in the farmyard, no one cares, no one pays any attention. And the churches are even emptier.

Tim O'Leary
1 week 6 days ago

Biden has taken an even more rabid pro-abortion position in this election that ever. It reveals he was dishonest in his “personally opposed” posturing. He was rightly denied communion, just as those in Louisiana who opposed civil rights for Blacks were when it was a politically unpopular position by the Church. It might be the best thing for his soul, as he will likely lose the primary and then have to contemplate where his heart is before he meets his maker.

J. Calpezzo
1 week 6 days ago

Morey is a pimp. Send him to the Amazon

David Clare
1 week 6 days ago

Does this mean any politician that supports the death penalty would be refused Holy Communion? If not why? The Church should be a place for women to pray on such decision, to get counseling and even possibly provide a service to place unwanted babies in welcoming homes. The Church should stay out of politics and instead be a place that welcomes and forgives all including sinners theater lay or religious.

John Graham
1 week 6 days ago

The sacrament through which the priest "welcomes and forgives all sinners" is confession or reconciliation, which is open to Joe Biden and all pro-abortion politicians who repent of the public scandal they cause by championing abortion. We are now in a situation where (according to Pew) over half of self-identified Catholics believe abortion should be legal. This is surely in no small part due to confusion caused by politicians like Joe Biden and bishops and priests who refuse to call them to repent. Father Morley's refusing to distribute Communion to Joe Biden was an act of charity. Perhaps it will lead Mr. Biden to repent, confess, and receive absolution. But it isnot just about Joe Biden, Father Morey and all priests are pastorally responsible for their entire flocks, and should not magnify scandal by giving Commuion to those who are leading others to sin. Indeed, I believe I understand correctly that priests who distribute Communion to those they believe (from their objectively observed behavior are in mortal sin) fall into mortal sin themselves.

J. Calpezzo
1 week 6 days ago

Why would Morey deny any Catholic who comes to receive God.

He should be defrocked.

Sha'Pearl Jones
1 week 6 days ago

Sorry, communion is not a pot luck. You cannot receive communion whilst in a state of mortal sin. That's not a new rule. It's Biblical and it's the teaching of the church. Don't agree with it? Become a Protestant and pick and choose what you like. See ya.

Mark Land
1 week 6 days ago

who are YOU to judge...typical hypocrite....

Sha'Pearl Jones
1 week 6 days ago

No need to judge. His own words reveal it.

Denise Mccarthy
1 week 6 days ago

Yeah, maybe people who live in glass houses should not throw stones. What about the pedophile priests and their bishops, who cover up their sins? These men are distributing Communion for the love of God. Awfully judgmental here. Thank God that you are totally free of sin and can inflict judgement on others.

Edward Gallagher
1 week 6 days ago

Turning Catholics away from the Eucharist is a reprehensible and hateful act of small minded men. This local Catholic priest took it upon himself to publicly judge another Catholic’s worthiness, as if he was privy to the deepest recesses of this man’s conscience. “Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, whited sepulchers....” I much prefer the pope’s rhetorical question: “Who am I to judge?”

Edward Gallagher
1 week 6 days ago

Turning Catholics away from the Eucharist is a reprehensible and hateful act of small minded men. This local Catholic priest took it upon himself to publicly judge another Catholic’s worthiness, as if he was privy to the deepest recesses of this man’s conscience. “Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, whited sepulchers....” I much prefer the pope’s rhetorical question: “Who am I to judge?”

Todd Witherell
1 week 6 days ago

Father Morey - a shameful story
Priest pretender seeking glory
Karma's comin' - grotesque and gory
Exclusion now from in illo tempore

John Barbieri
1 week 6 days ago

Father zMoreyq is another example of why the days of the clergy need to end.

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