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Former vice president Joe Biden, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, was denied communion Sunday at a Catholic church in South Carolina over his support for abortion rights.
Father Robert Morey, the pastor at Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, told the Florence Morning News that he denied Biden communion because "any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching."
"Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden," Rev. Robert Morey said in a statement on Monday. "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. 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."
"I'm not going to discuss that," Biden told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell in an on-air phone interview on Tuesday.
As the Fox News reports, Biden isn't the first lawmaker who faced pushback from the Catholic Church because of conflicting political and religious beliefs. For instance, former Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., faced a similar denial of Communion when campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 because of his stance on abortion rights.
Also, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) cannot receive Communion where he lives in the Archdiocese of New York. Cuomo’s support for the state’s new law allowing abortions later in pregnancy earlier this year raised questions about whether he should be excommunicated from the church. In 2016, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, then the Democratic vice presidential nominee, faced criticism from individual priests over his positions on abortion, same-sex marriage and gender equality.
Biden said in 2012 that he personally opposes abortion. “But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews. … I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that — women they can’t control their body,” he said during a debate.
As the Washington Post reports, among Catholic Republicans and GOP leaners, 55 percent say abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, which mirrors other Republican voters. On the other hand, 64 percent of Catholic Democrats and Democratic leaners say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, just slightly lower than other Democrats.