"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," the priest added. Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law states that
"Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion."
Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger wrote a memorandum to the U.S. Catholic bishops in 2004, explaining the application of Canon Law 915 to the reception of Holy Communion.
The memorandum stated that "the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin."
The case of a "Catholic politician" who is "consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" would constitute "formal cooperation" in grave sin that is "manifest," the letter continued.
In such cases, "his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist," Ratzinger wrote.
At the time Biden was denied Communion, his website stated that one of his priorities as president would be to "work to codify Roe v. Wade" into federal law, and that "his Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate the constitutional right to an abortion," including laws requiring waiting periods, ultrasounds, and parental notification of a minor's abortion.
"Vice President Biden supports repealing the Hyde Amendment because healthcare is a right that should not be dependent on one's zip code or income," said his website.
Biden's website also pledges him to "restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood," and promises to "rescind the Mexico City Policy (also referred to as the global gag rule) that President Trump reinstated and expanded."
During his career as a senator, Biden voted numerous times in favor of the Hyde Amendment and Mexico City Policy, and opposed public funding for abortions.
But as he campaigned for the Democratic nomination last year, Biden shifted his views on abortion funding.
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Over the course of one week in June 2019, Biden went from publicly supporting the Hyde Amendment--which prohibits the use of Medicaid funds for most abortions--to pledging to repeal it if he were to be elected president.
Previously, Biden supported some aspects of pro-life legislation. In addition to his Senate vote in favor of the Hyde amendment, he also supported the Mexico City Policy in 1984, voted again in favor of Hyde in 1993, and voted to ban partial-birth abortion in 1995 and again in 1997.
On Thursday, Biden said that his Catholic "faith teaches me to love my neighbor as I would myself, while President Trump only seeks to divide us. My faith teaches me to care for the least among us, while President Trump seems to only be concerned about his gilded friends. My faith teaches me to welcome the stranger, while President Trump tears families apart. My faith teaches me to walk humbly, while President Trump teargassed peaceful protestors so he could walk over to a church for a photo op."
The candidate's statement did not address his position on abortion.
In July, a grop of 115 Christian leaders, including Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky and other Catholic clergy, religious, and laity, signed a letter to the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Platform Committee, asking the party to support pro-life policies including "legal protection for pre-born children."
"We call upon you to recognize the inviolable human dignity of the child, before and after birth," the letter stated, asking for a rejection of "a litmus test on pro-life people of faith seeking office in the Democratic Party."