On Sept. 27, 2019, the then former Vice President Joe Biden was denied communion at a Catholic church in Florence, South Carolina over his support for abortion rights. Father Robert
Morey said “any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.” Biden in 2012 at a vice presidential debate explained that he personally opposes abortion, but said he refuses to impose that on others. “I do not believe we have a right to tell women that they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor.”
Biden has since become just the second Catholic U.S. President in history and he regularly goes to church and says his faith is a deeply personal aspect of his life. Recently conservative American bishops have been pushing to deny communion to politicians supportive of abortion rights, including President Biden. The Vatican has warned those conservative bishops to stop and “not to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon.” Yet the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops met virtually the week of June 13, 2021 and at the end of 3 days voted to go forward with drafting a formal statement on the meaning of Communion, which will include whether pro-choice politicians like Biden should be denied it. The result of the vote was 168 bishops in favor, 55 against, with 6 abstaining. An in-person gathering by the U.S. bishops is planned for November, 2021 when a vote for formal adoption of the statement would take place. However, it is unlikely that the conservative bishops would be able to ratify the document since a two-thirds approval by the bishop plus Vatican approval would be needed, or it would require unanimous approval by all the countries’ bishops. When asked recently about the possibility that the bishops would approve a document suggesting that his abortion position should disqualify him from receiving Communion, Biden said “That’s a private matter, and I don’t think that’s going to happen.” Supporters of the measure said that a strong rebuke of Bidden is needed because of his recent actions protecting and expanding abortion access, while opponents warn that such action would portray the bishops as a partisan force during a time of bitter political division across  the United States. Cardinal Ladaria at the Vatican wrote that if the American bishops are going to open the door on the Communion issue then they should be prepared to consider extending the policy to all Catholics “rather than only one category of Catholics.” Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington has the ultimate decision on whether to deny Communion to President Biden in Washington. He has made it crystal clear that he will not.