Being a Catholic is hard. As a convert to the Faith, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to practice Catholicism in a post-Christian society that often views practicing Catholics with disdain and misunderstanding.
It was the Catholic Church’s strict adherence to certain values — held deeply even in the face of cultural pressure — that made me give the Church and her teaching a second look. In a culture where abortion is common, the Catholic Church’s unflinching opposition to abortion seems antiquated to some. But to me, it’s a beacon of hope — reassurance that what pro-life Americans know in their consciences to be true is backed by millennia of Judeo-Christian doctrine and reassurance that those of us who fight for life every day are fighting alongside the King who has conquered death.
That’s why I was encouraged to hear over the weekend that a priest had the courage to stand up for the truth when he denied Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden Holy Communion due to the presidential candidate’s active support of abortion. The Church refers to this support as “cooperating in evil,” and “participat[ing] in manifest grave sin,” rendering one ineligible to receive the Holy Eucharist, which we hold to be the actual Body of Christ.
It’s clear that Rev. Robert Morey made his decision with regret.
“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Morey said in a statement. “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 know how hard it must be for priests to do this when they know they should. Not only will they be mocked by the secular culture, which doesn’t understand their faith, but they will likely be attacked by members of their own Church — even by hierarchy, who sometimes seem to desire cultural approval more than God’s.
New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Fox & Friends observed that the issues are complicated: “That priest had a good point that you (Biden) are publicly at odds with an issue of substance, critical substance, we’re talking about life and death and the Church. You personally (someone at odds with the Church), out of integrity, should not approach Holy Communion because that implies that you aren’t in union with all the Church beliefs and what it stands for.”
The Catholic Church, and many of our Christian brothers and sisters in Protestant communities, hold abortion to be an offense to God and to humanity. But every time we passively accept the cultural status quo of abortion or remain silent on behalf of the voiceless child in the womb, we aid the diabolical agenda that has forced on us the corpses of 62 million children since 1973. Our Christian values spur us to keep working and fighting for a day when not a single child is sacrificed in abortion.
In South Carolina this weekend, one priest walked the Christian walk. By one sorrowful action of denying the Body of Christ to someone known to be cooperating in evil, he witnessed to that man the need for repentance. And he witnessed to his congregation that some things are so grave that they separate us from the Body of Christ. Christian leaders who courageously stand up to the abortion status quo deserve our encouragement and support.
My hope for Joe Biden is that he returns to his faith and spends the rest of his life in public service defending the dignity of women and children. I pray for this outcome because I think it would be good for the country — and because it would be good for Joe Biden. So, Joe; from one Catholic to another: Come home.