Father Robert E. Morey, the priest at Saint Anthony’s Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina, denied former Vice President Joe Biden Communion at the 9 AM Sunday Mass. Father Morey wrote that “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.”
Talk about a bold move. Father Bob, as the local Catholics call him, is a very meek, gentle spirit. I’ve heard his homilies (that’s like sermons to us Protestants, but a lot shorter) before, and they’re very good. His style of delivery is like an agreeable grandfather earnestly teaching about Christ’s Love while handing you a Werther’s Original—what Joe Biden wants to be.
But is also exceptionally brave, and on fire for the pro-life movement. He came to the priesthood through the movement, in fact; according to one homily I attended, he told the congregation that he was working the EPA in the Reagan Administration when he first got involved. If you become a priest because of or for something, you sure do believe it.
That’s all to say Father Bob was not grandstanding, or trying to grab headlines—he’s the polar opposite of some of these celebrity priests that like to say or write incendiary or unorthodox statements in order to get in the papers. He acted on his conviction and the teachings of the Church, and faithfully executed them in his position as a priest.
It might not seem like much, but that takes guts. One reason progressives have been so effective in the culture wars is that we’re afraid to uphold our values lest we appear rude. I honestly believe this spurs more conservatives and Christians to inaction than the fear of mockery (although that does play a role). We know what’s right, but we’d rather go along to get along, lest we offend.
Believe me, Father Bob took no joy in denying a former Vice President and current major presidential candidate Communion, especially one for a political party with an active paramilitary wing and the full brunt of the media on its side (even the Florence Morning-News writes that Biden’s “position on abortion is unclear”—poppycock!). As a Christian, he sincerely wants Biden to abandon his support for abortion and come back to the Church.
As an evangelical Protestant, I’m often flummoxed that more Catholic priests don’t take similar steps—although, as I’ve just written, I suspect it’s partially out of a universal desire to be polite and not cause a scene. But my thinking is, as Catholics, you have unique institutional and spiritual tools for addressing such wicked apostasy. When New York signed that egregious abortion bill into law, I was dying for some hardcore, old-school bishop to excommunicate Governor Cuomo.
Father Bob made the right call here, tough as it was. Cultural Catholics like Biden in the Democratic Party have been skating for years, enjoying the benefits of assuming a mantle of religiosity while not making any of the sacrifices necessary to be in a community of saints—to believe, actually and truly, the teachings of Christ. It’s the same issue with “feel-good” Christianity among hip Protestants and neo-evangelicals.
I’m afraid the situation for the good padre is going to get unpleasant, especially if this story breaks nationally. As such, please keep him in your prayers. He’s doing thankless yeoman’s work for the Lord, and for the unborn.
That said, I don’t think Father Bob will be too phased by any of it.