Former Vice President Joe Biden was denied communion at a Catholic Church in South Carolina Sunday because of his staunch position in favor of abortion.
Biden, who earlier this year reversed course on his long held stance in favor of the Hyde Amendment, was attending a worship service at Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina, when he attempted to receive the sacrament. The former vice president, however, was rebuffed by the church’s pastor, Father Robert E. Morey, because of his support for abortion.
“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Morey told the Florence Morning News on Monday. “Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that.”
The pastor’s act comes as Biden, who identifies as a Catholic and has claimed to be personally opposed to abortion, has shifted his position on the practice to line up with the mainstream of the Democrat Party, under whose banner he hopes to be elected president next year.
In June, the former vice president set off a firestorm on the left by reaffirming his commitment to the Hyde Amendment, a federal rule banning tax dollars from being used for abortion except in cases of maternal health or if the pregnancy arose because of rape or incest.
Although Biden had voted for the rule continuously over the span of his 40-year political career, his public acknowledgment of such support drew the ire of pro-choice groups and activists. Some, like NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue, even claimed Biden’s support for the Hyde Amendement translated “into discrimination against poor women and women of color plain and simple.”
In the wake of such criticism, the 76-year-old Biden attempted to appease his detractors by saying he would only continue supporting the rule unless women were in a position to lose access to abortion. That waffle, though, did nothing to allay concerns from pro-choice activists, with many echoing Planned Parenthood by claiming continued support for the rule was “harmful” to women. After such denunciation and pressure from the likes of Hollywood starlet Alyssa Milano, Biden eventually acquiesced, expressing that “times had changed.”
While the shift may have worked in salving the ire of progressives, it only served to underscore the divergence between Biden and ecclesiastic officers, like Morey. On Monday, the priest asserted his decision to deny the former vice president communion was not personal, but stemmed from his responsibilities to the church and its teachings on life and conception.
“Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching,” Morey told the Morning News. “I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers.”