President Joe Biden has described himself as a “devout Catholic,” a description enthusiastically repeated by his press secretary and the media. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who also serves as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, however, said that the president’s open support for legalized abortion should put that label to rest.
Speaking with Catholic World Report, Naumann flatly said that Biden “should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic” while acknowledging that his abortion views stand in direct opposition to the Catholic Church.
“Mr. Biden professes to be a devout Catholic, yet is 100% pro-choice on abortion. How do you think America’s bishops ought to respond to this situation?” CWR asked.
“I can tell you how this bishop is responding. The president should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic, and acknowledge that his view on abortion is contrary to Catholic moral teaching. It would be a more honest approach from him to say he disagreed with his Church on this important issue and that he was acting contrary to Church teaching,” Naumann responded. “When he says he is a devout Catholic, we bishops have the responsibility to correct him. Although people have given this president power and authority, he cannot define what it is to be a Catholic and what Catholic moral teaching is.”
“What he is doing now is usurping the role of the bishops and confusing people,” Naumann added. “He’s declaring that he’s Catholic, and is going to force people to support abortion through their tax dollars. The bishops need to correct him, as the president is acting contrary to the Catholic faith.”
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, abortion is a grave moral evil that cannot be approved or tolerated in any circumstance. In 2019, a Catholic priest in South Carolina reportedly enforced the church’s code of canon law by denying the then-former vice president the sacrament of Holy Communion due to his stance on abortion.
“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Father Robert E. Morey of Saint Anthony Catholic Church told reporters. “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.”
When asked about Morey’s actions, Naumann said that the priest was simply “following his conscience,” adding that Biden should not present himself for Holy Communion for fear of sacrilege.
“I believe the president has the responsibility not to present himself for Holy Communion. When Catholics receive the Eucharist, they are acknowledging the Real Presence of Jesus, and also believe in the teachings of the Church,” Naumann said. “President Biden doesn’t believe in the Church’s teachings on the Sanctity of Human Life, and he should not put the priest in the situation where he has to decide whether or not to allow him to receive the Eucharist. He should know that after 78 years as a Catholic.”
When asked if he would ever give Biden Holy Communion, the archbishop said that he probably will never have to make that decision.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be in that situation; I don’t anticipate him coming to Mass in Kansas and coming up to me to receive Communion,” he said. “I do believe that his bishop has a responsibility to dialogue with him about this issue. What he is supporting is a serious evil. I don’t know the disposition of his mind and heart, but his act of supporting legal abortion is wrong.”
Former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has argued that Biden should be denied Holy Communion. Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington, D.C., has already stated he would give Biden Holy Communion if he presented himself for it.