Florida bishop counsels Biden to examine conscience before Communion

ppbidenbishop071108 Bishop John Richard / Vice president-elect Joe Biden

Bishop John Ricard of the Diocese of Tallahassee-Pensacola has written to vice-President-elect Sen. Joseph Biden regarding his recent attendance at a Sunday Mass in the diocese.  Commenting on his support for laws that do not protect the unborn, Bishop Ricard reminded Biden about the need to examine one’s conscience about his fidelity to Church teaching in his personal and public life.

The bishop’s November 4 letter began by thanking Biden for his collaboration with the bishops in legislation beneficial to the poor and the destitute.

“It is as a collaborator for the common good, and as pastor of the Church in Pensacola-Tallahassee that I write to you with similar urgency,” he wrote.

Noting that Sunday Mass provides Catholics with the “nourishment to live in the image of Jesus Christ,” the bishop described Christ’s mission as one “directed to the orphan and the widow, to the poor and the vulnerable.”

“The common good is served only when the least of our brethren are accorded full rights corresponding to their inviolable dignity. Thus, human life is to be respected from the moment of conception until natural death. The Church has taught this from the beginning, and civilized societies live by this principle,” he continued.

Noting that the worship of God culminates in the reception of Holy Communion during Mass, Bishop Ricard added that at that moment the Holy Spirit nourishes us and strengthens us and grants us the “gift of courage to stand up in fortitude to protect the weakest among us.”

“While grateful for the effective collaboration you and your office have offered on so many worthy projects and concerns, I also observe, by your support for laws that fail to protect the unborn, a profound disconnection from your human and personal obligation to protect the weakest and most innocent among us: the child in the womb,” the bishop wrote.

Quoting the words of St. Paul about the worthy reception of Holy Communion, Bishop Ricard noted the necessity of examining one’s conscience.

The bishop concluded with a prayer, saying:

“I pray that the Catholic faith you have been raised in, the faith by which you pray, and the life of virtue which flows from both may strengthen you so that you may have the strength needed to witness Jesus, even as the martyrs did, and live by the virtue of fortitude as you proclaim your support to the Person of Christ in the most vulnerable of his members: the pre-born child.

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