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President Biden and Public Scandal

Should President Joseph Biden be admitted to Holy Communion when he attends Mass? The simple answer is, “No,” owing to his public and unwavering support for legalized abortion. Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law states: “Those. . .obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.” Abortion, the killing of innocent unborn children, is a grave sin, as is the legalization and promotion of this heinous practice. It’s a criminal violation of an unborn person’s right to life.

In the 2002 Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life [1], Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), stated: “John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a ‘grave and clear obligation to oppose’ any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.” (Emphasis added)

In the 2004 Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles [2] Ratzinger specifically instructed the U.S. bishops that a Catholic politician engages in formal cooperation with the sin of abortion when he consistently campaigns and votes for permissive abortion laws. President Biden obviously promotes the abortion license and has directed that taxpayers’ dollars pay for abortions. He’s an unapologetic and determined promoter of this immoral attack on human life. This is an indisputable fact. Just ask his supporters at Planned Parenthood and NARAL.

Ratzinger told the U.S. bishops that, dealing with such a politician, “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.” He also cited a 2002 Declaration [3] from the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts: “When ‘these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible,’ and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, ‘the minster of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it.’” (Emphasis added)

The Declaration explains: “The decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.”


An objective situation of sin is scandalous in this case because such a Catholic politician who consistently promotes abortion by that very conduct actively encourages others to fall into the same sin. In Biden’s case, his well-known campaign promises to keep abortion legal and federally funded is clear evidence of his rejection of Catholic moral teaching. He plainly intended to convince other Catholics to join him in gravely sinful behavior. Such conduct renders him publicly unworthy to receive Holy Communion.

The facts, and the applicability of canon 915 to those facts, are indisputable.

For this reason, the recent Letter [4] of the CDF Prefect, Cardinal Ladaria, to the American bishops is disappointing, even confounding. Remarkably, he never mentions canon 915. He calls for dialogue among the bishops “so that they could agree as a Conference that support of pro-choice legislation is not compatible with Catholic teaching.” But the matter is already beyond question. Any bishop who does not agree “that support of pro-choice legislation is not compatible with Catholic teaching” should change his mind or his job.

Ladaria then calls for dialogue with Catholic politicians “who adopt a pro-choice position. . .as a means of understanding their positions and their comprehension of Catholic teaching.” Really? After almost 50 years of legalized abortion, the “pro-choice” position needs no further study. Let alone “dialogue.” It is hard to imagine that President Biden and other Catholic advocates of legalized abortion are unaware of what the Church teaches about the sanctity of human life. They just don’t follow it.

Ladaria calls for further dialogue among the bishops, with other episcopal conferences, and further consultation with his office. How long would this process take? It’s a needless delay in tackling a major scandal.

The Church has a duty to teach God’s law and to sanction members who egregiously and continuously exempt themselves from obedience to that law – and encourage others to do the same. Depriving them of Holy Communion, we may hope, will jar them into reforming their conduct and their opposition to God’s binding law for all mankind.

Public defiance of God’s prohibition of unjust killing is an attack upon the faith and unity of the Church. The Church has a responsibility before God to lead the flock away from diabolical disobedience and into grace-filled obedience.

A Catholic who falls into immoral behavior, knowing that the Church has condemned it, should be presumed by his pastor to be imperiling his soul and the souls of those he is influencing. He needs to be told that his objectively sinful behavior constitutes a culpable offense for which he needs to seek pardon after repenting.

The American bishops should act as a group, and individually in their dioceses, to end the scandal of the continued administration of Our Lord’s Most Holy Body and Blood to the highest public official in our land. To fail to do so amounts to a refusal to uphold the Church’s canon law, to the grave harms of souls. It would be a negligent passivity, a failure to defend the sanctity of the Christ’s greatest gift to his Church.

And it would communicate to all the message that God may be mocked without consequence when an important Catholic public figure decides to support, not God’s law, but rather the gruesome linchpin of the sexual revolution, unfettered legal abortion.


*Image: During the 2020 presidential campaign, Joe Biden poses at the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware [CNS photo/Jim Bourg, Reuters]

The Rev. Gerald E. Murray, J.C.D. is a canon lawyer and the pastor of Holy Family Church in New York City. His new book (with Diane Montagna), Calming the Storm: Navigating the Crises Facing the Catholic Church and Society, will be published on April 7, 2022.