Retired Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput stated in an article today that President-elect Joe Biden is "not in full communion with the Catholic Church," and because of his long history of supporting "grave moral evils," such as abortion, he "should not receive Holy Communion."
Archbishop Chaput stressed that Biden's "actions and words" have supported or "smoothed the way" for evils in our society that have "resulted in the destruction of millions of innocent lives."
Chaput also said that Catholic bishops who say they will give Biden Communion "do a serious disservice to their brother bishops and their people."
"When bishops publicly announce their willingness to give Communion to Mr. Biden, without clearly teaching the gravity of his facilitating the evil of abortion (and his approval of same-sex relationships), they do a serious disservice to their brother bishops and their people," wrote Archbishop Chaput in his Dec. 4 article for First Things magazine.
"The reason is obvious," he said. "By his actions during the course of his public life, Mr. Biden has demonstrated that he is not in full communion with the Catholic Church. To his credit, he has championed many causes and issues that do serve the common good."
"However, many of his actions and words have also supported or smoothed the way for grave moral evils in our public life that have resulted in the destruction of millions of innocent lives," said the archbishop.
"Mr. Biden has said that he will continue to advance those same policies as president, and thus should not receive Holy Communion," said Chaput. "His stated intention requires a strong and consistent response from Church leaders and faithful."
Citing Church instructions on the matter, Chaput explained that if a Catholic politician supports a grave sin, such as abortion or euthanasia, by "consistently campaigning and voting" for such evils, his pastor should meet with him privately and explain why this is wrong and why this endangers his immortal soul.
If the politician does not repent and change his behavior, the pastor must act and refuse to allow the politician to receive Holy Communion. To do otherwise would be sacrilegious. It also would spread scandal among the faithful.
"The implications for the present moment are clear," said Chaput. "Public figures who identify as 'Catholic' give scandal to the faithful when receiving Communion by creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional. And bishops give similar scandal by not speaking up publicly about the issue and danger of sacrilege."
Citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the archbishop noted, "2284. Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor's tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.
"... [T]they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to 'social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.' This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger, or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values."
Archbishop Wilton Gregory, who heads the archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and was recently elevated to Cardinal by Pope Francis, has stated that Joe Biden will not be denied Communion in the archdiocese.
While not naming Gregory in his article, Archbishop Chaput said, "Those bishops who publicly indicate in advance that they will undertake their own dialogue with President-elect Joseph Biden and allow him Communion effectively undermine the work of the task force established at the November bishops’ conference meeting to deal precisely with this and related issues."
"This gives scandal to their brother bishops and priests, and to the many Catholics who struggle to stay faithful to Church teaching," said Chaput. "It does damage to the bishops’ conference, to the meaning of collegiality, and to the fruitfulness of the conference’s advocacy work with the incoming administration."
He continued, "This is a matter of bishops’ unique responsibility before the Lord for the integrity of the sacraments. Moreover, there is also the pressing matter of pastoral concern for a man’s salvation."