FLORENCE, South Carolina (LifeSiteNews) – Pro-abortion U.S. presidential hopeful and former Vice President Joe Biden has refused to discuss a priest’s decision to deny him Holy Communion on Sunday, but maintains that he is “a practicing Catholic.”
“I practice my faith, but I've never let my religious beliefs, which I accept based on Church doctrine…impose…on other people,” said Biden, who in addition to supporting taxpayer-funded abortion on demand has also officiated a same-sex “wedding.”
Meanwhile, other Catholics have weighed in.
“I have often called for greater application of Canon 915, which apparently just happened in So. Carolina. I have little to add beyond noting that the application of c. 915 is not ‘sad’, rather, the acts making it necessary to invoke it are what’s sad,” tweeted American canon lawyer Ed Peters.
In response to a suggestion that Fr. Robert E. Morey should not have subsequently informed the media of his decision, Peters stressed the necessarily public nature of such a pastoral rebuke.
“The one thing it’s NOT is a private encounter,” he explained. “Talk to the media, or not, but withholding Holy Communion here is a PUBLIC act by the Church in response to PUBLIC acts of sin. It’s crucial to see that point.”
Catholic author Eric Sammons tweeted, “Denying Communion to a pro-abortion politician should not be news. It should be the norm.”
LGBT activist and priest Fr. James Martin, S.J., disagreed with Morey’s action, however, saying yesterday on Twitter that “denying Communion to politicians, Democrat or Republican, is a bad idea.”
“If you deny the sacrament to those who support abortion, then you must also deny it to those who support the death penalty. How about those who don't help the poor? How about ‘Laudato Si’? Where does it end?” he asked.
“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,” he added.
“As we were taught in theology studies, the person may have repented of any sins and gone to confession immediately before Mass. You have no idea.”
Martin, 58, holds a Masters of Theology from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Theologian Dr. Alan Fimister told LifeSiteNews that there is a difference between denying a Catholic Holy Communion for a private sin, which he might have confessed publicly, and for a public sin, which even if he has been absolved for, is still attended by scandal. The scandal is greatly repeated by the reception of Communion before the scandal has been removed.
“In regard to the death penalty, while the Magisterium is competent to teach under what circumstances the death penalty may be used, the question of whether those circumstances have been realized or not is a technical judgement ultimately proper to the laity,” Fimister said.
“The same is true about the question of whether global warming is caused by human activity,” he added.
Fimister, an assistant professor of theology at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado, used a famous film to make a point about the difference between moral and prudential judgement.
“If the mayor in Jaws really believes that there sharks are swimming in the sea next to his town, it is immoral to allow children to play on the beach. But whether there are such sharks or not is up to him to determine.”
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, famously distinguished between pro-abortion politicians and those who merely disagree with the pontiff on the death penalty in his 2004 memo to then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick entitled “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles.”
“There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia,” the then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote to the American cardinal.
Ratzinger added that when a Catholic politician “consistently” campaigned and voted for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws, his pastor should meet with him, instruct him in the Church’s teaching, and tell him not to present himself for Holy Communion until “he brings to an end the objective situation of sin.” The priest should also warn him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.
“When ‘these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,’ and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, ‘the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it’ (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration ‘Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics’ , nos. 3-4),” Ratzinger continued.
“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.”
McCarrick, who would later be expelled from the College of Cardinals and the priesthood for his predatory homosexual behavior, was reluctant to accept Ratzinger’s instructions. The then-cardinal publicly said that he himself was personally “uncomfortable” with denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.
Bishop W. Francis Malooly of the Archdiocese of Wilmington, Delaware – Biden’s home diocese – does not support withholding Holy Communion from the politician.
According to the archdiocesan newspaper The Dialog, Bishop Malooly “has not wavered from this stance.”
“The Church’s teachings on the protection of human life from the moment of conception is clear and well-known,” said a statement released by the Diocese of Wilmington. “Bishop Malooly has consistently refrained from politicizing the Eucharist, and will continue to do so. His preference, as with most bishops, is to interact with politicians individually who disagree with significant church teachings.”