Brian Burch, president of political advocacy organization CatholicVote, told CNA that Biden’s faith itself should not be called into question, but his position on issues of importance to religious believers should be a matter of consideration.
“Joe Biden says his Catholic faith is important to him, and it's not our place to question that,” Burch told CNA. “It's obvious Biden attends Mass, and it's obvious his Catholic faith has been a comfort to him at critical moments in his life.”
“But the question in this election is about what his plans are for this country, and that's what believers should focus on," Burch said.
“What matters here isn't his devotional life, but his policies. And his policy agenda threatens the freedom of the Church in America," he added, not only on life, but also on religious liberty.
Burch said that in his view, Biden’s positions could impact the Church’s social and charitable ministries.
“I worry that the Catholic Church in America is not taking seriously enough how a Biden presidency might threaten the freedom of the Church in America. Catholic hospitals, schools and charities will surely be forced to choose whether to operate in communion with what we believe as Catholics, compromise the Faith, or shut down altogether. Hundreds of millions of dollars in federal and state grants that serve the poor and vulnerable could be at stake,” Burch said.
In October 2019, Biden was denied Holy Communion at a South Carolina church because of his support for legalized abortion.
“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Fr. Robert Morey, pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church in the Diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, told CNA Oct 28.
“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.”
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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.