In 2008, Malooly made largely the same point in response to Biden’s public support for abortion as he was campaigning on the ticket with then-presidential candidate Barack Obama.
Malooly said in the Sept. 4, 2008 edition of the diocesan newspaper The Dialog, that he did not “intend to politicize the Eucharist as a way of communication Catholic Church teachings, but would rather “get a lot more mileage out of a conversation trying to change the mind and heart than I would out of a public confrontation.”
Biden, one of the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, is a Catholic who represented Delaware in the U.S. Senate from 1973 until 2009, and served as vice president from 2009 to 2017. In April of 2019, he announced his candidacy for president.
While Biden served in the Senate, he largely supported the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision that found a legal right to abortion, Roe v. Wade. He called his position “middle-of-the-road,” saying that he supported Roe but opposed late-term abortions and federal funding of abortions.
Since then, he has supported taxpayer funding of abortions via the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and Mexico City Policy, in his 2020 platform.
Biden’s 2020 campaign platform calls for the codification of Roe v. Wade as federal law. It also would ensure, as part of a health care “public option,” coverage of “a woman’s constitutional right to choose. Biden also favors reinstating taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.
Debate over the application of the Code of Canon Law’s canon 915 to pro-choice politicians is not a new one. The canonical norm states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
During the 2004 election, the U.S. bishops issued a statement “Catholics in Political Life” that left the decision to withhold Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians to individual bishops.
Meanwhile, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had sent a letter to Theodore McCarrick, then-Archbishop of Washington, with the expectation that it be read to fellow bishops.
The letter said that pro-abortion politicians—after first being admonished by their pastor on Church teaching and warning them against presenting themselves for Communion—“are not to be admitted to holy communion.”
The law’s definition of “manifest” participation in “grave sin” applies “in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws,” Ratzinger said.
(Story continues below)
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McCarrick read some but not all of the letter to his fellow bishops at their summer meeting, omitting key parts and saying that Ratzinger had agreed with the bishops’ decision to leave the judgement about withholding Holy Communion up to each individual bishop. Ratzinger’s entire letter was reported to the public afterward.
It was in August 2004, shortly after that letter was read, that the Archbishop of Atlanta, then Archbishop John Donoghue, along with Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte and Bishop Robert Baker of Charleston jointly set policy for their dioceses.
A law “which legitimizes the direct killing of innocent human beings through abortion is intrinsically unjust, since it is directly opposed to the natural law, to God’s revealed commandments, and to the consequent right of every individual to possess life, from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death,” the bishops wrote.