Joe Biden was recently rebuffed while presenting himself for communion at St. Anthony Catholic Church in the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina. Father Robert Morey refused to give Biden the eucharist and issued a statement to the Catholic News Agency: “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. Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.”
Biden has been a vocal supporter of abortion and has advocated for the federal funding of abortion through subsidizing Planned Parenthood. The action of Fr. Morey is shocking to many because the Catholic Church has been lax on holding Catholic politicians accountable for their outright rebellion against Church teaching. Most notably, Andrew Cuomo was not excommunicated by Cardinal Dolan after signing into New York law the most extreme abortion laws this nation has ever seen, allowing full-term babies to be executed for any reason. Dolan likened excommunication in this instance as using it as a “weapon,” which he declined to do.
Contrary to critics like Dolan, who claim excommunication and withholding communion is not proper, Canon Law seems to disagree. Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law says that “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.” Helping to facilitate abortion in any way automatically excommunicates the person involved. This would require that the person not present themselves for communion until they have sought reconciliation through true confession.
There seems to be no better example of “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” than those politicians who are actively promoting, campaigning for, and signing laws expanding abortion in this country. Biden is not the only politician to be refused communion. The Bishop of Springfield, Ill., Thomas Paprocki, barred Senator Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) from communion last year, quoting the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops from 2004: “Failing to protect the lives of innocent and defenseless members of the human race is to sin against justice. Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.”
Other lawmakers who have been refused communion include John Kerry, Michael Madigan, and John Cullerton, all pro-abortion Democrats.
Excommunication has been used to great good in the Church throughout history, including to integrate Catholic schools. American Life League has an extensive list of historical support for excommunication and withholding of communion that is a must-read.
Saint John Chrysostom (c. 337-407) noted, “If, being conscious of grave sin in anyone, you allow that person to partake of this Table, his blood shall be required at your hands. . . . Even if it is a general, or a government official—even the emperor himself!—if he comes unworthily, forbid him from receiving Communion. The authority you have is greater than his.”
New Orleans archbishop Joseph Rummel was criticized by some Catholic laymen who openly opposed his efforts to racially integrate Catholic schools. The archbishop followed procedure, notifying his critics, then proceeded to excommunicate these individuals for interfering with his authority. Archbishop Rummel also had to stand firm against a number of Louisiana state legislators in 1960, who wrote to the archbishop warning that he risked losing aid to the Catholic schools as well as church tax-exempt status for supporting racial integration. Archbishop Rummel proceeded to integrate the Catholic schools.
There is a war going on inside the Church between those who would water down its teachings and ignore them and those who want them upheld. Traditional Catholics are cheering for Fr. Morey, while so-called “progressive” Catholics are clucking their tongues in dismay because they would like the Church to catch up to modern values and embrace abortion. The ongoing war is heating up, as seen in the mess at the Amazon Synod with “idolgate,” where trad-Catholics seized statues perceived as idols and threw them into the river while bishops, and even the pope, stood around participating in Amazonian paganism. Chances are it’s going to get a lot hotter before it calms down.
Megan Fox is the author of “Believe Evidence; The Death of Due Process from Salome to #MeToo.” Follow on Twitter @MeganFoxWriter