Former vice president Joe Biden was denied communion by a Catholic priest in South Carolina on Sunday because of his public stance on abortion.Father Robert E. Morey confirmed to the Florence Morning News via email on Monday that he had refused the sacrament to Biden.“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Father Morey, pastor at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, said. “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, who is Catholic, would not confirm whether he had attended Mass at St. Anthony’s. The campaign told the Florence Morning News that “if he did attend, he did so in a private capacity.”Biden has said in the past that he is “personally opposed” to abortion, but publicly advocates for its protection, including the establishing of a federal law to preserve the right to abortion even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.Biden flipped multiple times on the campaign trail earlier this year over support for the Hyde amendment, which bans federal funding of abortion under Medicaid except in rare circumstances.“I’ve been working through the finer details of my health care plan like others in this race, and I’ve been struggling with the problems that Hyde now presents,” Biden said during a Democratic National Committee gala in Atlanta in June. “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code.”Denial of communion to politicians who publicly support abortion has long been a hot-button topic. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote in 2004 that “such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles.” Morey’s email said that the matter of pro-choice Catholic politicians is a difficult situation, but his responsibility remains to minister to souls.“I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers,” Morey’s statement concludes.
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