When Joe Biden attended church in October 2019 while campaigning in South Carolina, he was denied communion in St Anthony’s Catholic church. Father Robert Morey later revealed why he had to deny Biden: “Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of church teaching.”
Numerous bishops in the United States desire to formalize this type of activity. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted on June 18th to develop a statement on the “meaning of the eucharist in the life of the church.” It might allow bishops to forbid Catholic politicians who support abortion from receiving communion.
Biden is the country’s second Catholic President, following John F. Kennedy. As with several other previous presidents, including George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter, he is a devout Christian. He often attended church and even pondered a career as a priest. Having such a committed Catholic in the White House elevates the stakes for the conservative wing of the American church.
Michael Pfeifer, a retired Texas bishop, compared Biden’s policy to “infanticide.”
According to a Pew Research Center poll, two-thirds of American Catholics believe Biden should be permitted to receive communion. The vote demonstrates the chasm that exists between the church hierarchy and its followers. Nonetheless, this is of little concern to some conservative bishops.
It is uncommon for someone to be denied the eucharist. When John Kerry ran for President in 2004, some bishops attempted but failed to refuse him communion. The most recent controversy has exacerbated the schism between the American church and Rome. The Vatican published a letter advising American bishops to exercise restraint. They disregarded it. Meanwhile, politicians who support the death penalty, which Pope Francis wishes to abolish, are not sanctioned by the church.
John Carr, a former Conference spokesman who is now a professor at Georgetown University, a Catholic institution, argues that “we would all be better off if the bishops walked away from using the eucharist as a punishment.”