Last Sunday, Morey denied Eucharistic communion to 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden at Mass at St. Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina, because of the politician’s public support of abortion.
“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Morey, who is the pastor of St. Anthony’s, explained in a statement sent to CNA.
“Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that,” Morey added. “Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.”
In denying Biden communion, Morey was following a diocesan policy set forth in a 2004 decree signed jointly by the bishops of Atlanta, Charleston, and Charlotte. The decree states that supporting pro-abortion legislation is “gravely sinful” and that public figures who do so must be denied communion until they repent.
Joseph Zwilling, director of communications in the Archdiocese of New York, told CNA that the archdiocese does not have such a policy.
Dolan told Fox & Friends he agreed with what Morey said, though he would not personally deny a public figure the Eucharist.
“I think what he said was very to the point, I thought that was a good teaching moment,” Dolan said.
The cardinal said the issue has never come up for him personally - he has never seen a public figure in his Communion line who he knew was publicly advocating for policies that violate Church teaching.
“I’ve never had what you might call the opportunity, or I’ve never said ‘Uh oh, should I give him or her Holy Communion’, it’s never come up. Sure could,” Dolan said.
Dolan faced heavy criticism in January from Catholics who felt that he should have explicitly barred from communion New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, who had signed into law an expansive abortion bill.
On his radio show Jan. 29, Dolan said that sacramental disciplinary measures against the governor “would be completely counterproductive, right?”
“Especially if you have a governor who enjoys this and wants to represent himself as a kind of martyr to the cause, doing what is right. He is proud to dissent from the essentials of the faith. He’s proud with these positions."
"For me to punish him for it? He would just say, ‘Look at the suffering this prophet has to undergo,' the cardinal added.
Dolan said Oct. 31 that he frequently sees public figures at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and that he “admires” them when they do not approach the Eucharist out of their own awareness of their sin and separation from the Church.
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“They seem to know - ‘I shouldn’t do that. That could be hypocritical at this moment,’” Dolan said.
“On the other hand, we also remember Pope Francis. We...I personally can never judge the state of a person’s soul. So it’s difficult, that’s what I’m saying. I’m not up there as a tribunal, as a judge, distributing Holy Communion, I’m there as a pastor, as a doctor of souls,” Dolan said.
“So it’s difficult to make a judgment on the state of a person’s soul. My job is to help people make, with clear Church teaching, make a decision on the state of their soul and the repercussions of that.”
When asked if priests could refusing other people communion because of their sins, Dolan said that communion is intended for sinners.
“If only saints could receive Holy Communion, we wouldn’t have anybody at Mass, including myself, alright?” Dolan said.
“So sinners are who Holy Communion is for, it’s medicine for the soul, it’s an act of mercy, so it’s intended for sinners...but sinners who want to, who are sorry and want to repent. Then anybody’s welcome, come on up,” he added.