South Carolina priest denied Joe Biden communion over abortion stance

The former vice president is a devout Catholic who regularly attends mass.

October 30, 2019, 3:57 PM

Former Vice President Joe Biden was denied communion at a South Carolina church on Sunday because of his views on abortion, a local priest confirmed in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday.

"Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden. Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that," Father Robert Morey of Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina wrote in a statement explaining his decision.

Democratic presidential candidate and former vice president Joe Biden speaks at Morris Brown AME Church in Charleston, S.C., July 7, 2019.
Meg Kinnard/AP, FILE

"Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching. 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. I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers," Morey added.

Biden, a devout Catholic, was asked about the matter on Tuesday during an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, but said he did not want to discuss the situation.

"I'm not going to discuss that. That's my personal life. I'm not going to get into that at all," Biden said.

The presidential hopeful acknowledged that he will face questions in a general election on such social issues, and added that while he accepts the Catholic Church's teachings he has never sought to "impose that view on other people."

Throughout the 2020 campaign Biden has, along with the rest of the 2020 Democratic field, re-iterated that he is a strong proponent of reproductive rights and supports Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established a nationwide right to abortion.

However Biden took flack from some Democrats earlier this year when he did initially did not call for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which stipulates that federal funding cannot be used to pay for abortions.

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks at the SEIU Unions For All Summit on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, in Los Angeles.
Ringo H.w. Chiu/AP

Biden, who said during the 2012 vice presidential debate that he personally opposes abortion, eventually reversed his position.

Father Morey's decision is not the first time a presidential candidate's stance on abortion conflicted with the Catholic Church.

In 2004 St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said he would refuse to give communion to then Democratic presidential nominee and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry of his abortion stance.

In 2008, Bishop Joseph Francis Martino of Biden's hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania condemned the former vice president over his views on abortion and said he would deny him communion.

"No Catholic politician who supports the culture of death should approach Holy Communion. I will be truly vigilant on this point," Martino said at the time.

Related Topics