'I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers’: Florence priest denies Biden communion over abortion stance

Updated: Oct. 30, 2019 at 9:00 AM EDT
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FLORENCE, S.C. (WMBF) – A Florence priest denied former Vice President Joe Biden communion over the weekend for his stance on abortion.

Rev. Robert E. Morey, a priest at St. Anthony Catholic Church on Hoffmeyer Road, released the following statement on Tuesday:

“Sadly, this past Sunday [Oct. 27], I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden. 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. As a priest, it is my responsibility to minister to those souls entrusted to my care, and I must do so even in the most difficult situations. I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers.”

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall...
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a town hall meeting at the Indian Creek Nature Preserve, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)(Charlie Neibergall | AP)

The priest is referring to Biden’s support for Roe v. Wade. The presidential candidate, who’s a devout Catholic, said during a campaign stop in New Hampshire in June that the ruling is “the law of the land, a woman has a right to choose.”

Chris Handley, the associate pastor of First Presbyterian Church, said while his church wouldn’t have denied Biden communion, he understands why Morey did.

“He was acting as he should as a representative of the Church and Jesus Christ,” Handley said. "Biden’s position is not the position of the church and so as a representative of the church, he has a right to deny communion.

However, others disagree.

“I think it was presumptuous of the priest to determine that Mr. Biden was not one with God,” said resident Debra Weber.

Nathan Empsall, the campaign director of Faithful America and an Episcopal pastor, said Fr. Morey was wrong to refuse Biden.

The Christian organization launched a petition calling for the Catholic Church’s Bishop of Charleston to stop his priests from what they call ‘politicizing’ sacraments. They also would like Fr. Morey to apologize to Biden.

“Jesus commanded us to love and Jesus showed us how to do that and it wasn’t just words. Jesus dined with everyone and inviting everyone to his table and didn’t turn anyone away because they didn’t follow all of his teachings," Empsall said.

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