Former Vice President Joe Biden promotes himself as a devout Catholic and has used his faith to connect with voters on the campaign trail.
But not all of his interactions are positive, The Wall Street Journal reports.
According to The Journal, many Catholics are turned off by Biden’s position on abortion. In June 2019, he said he no longer supported the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions.
During a Mass service last October in South Carolina, Doug Amon, a parishioner, told The Journal that the Rev. Robert Morey refused to give Biden communion.
“Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of church teaching,” Rev. Morey said in a statement about his interaction.
Biden told "PBS NewsHour" he had never experienced a denial in any other church.
“It’s not a position that I’ve found anywhere else, including from the Holy Father who gives me communion,” he said.
According to exit polls, Catholic voters have sided with every presidential-election winner since 2004. Exit polls from 2016 show Trump was backed by 50% of Catholics.
“Catholic public opinion on abortion—and many other issues—is deeply polarized along party lines,” Elizabeth Sciupac, a senior researcher at Pew Research Center told The Journal. “Catholic Republicans and those who lean toward the GOP tend to hold issue positions in common with other Republicans, including on abortion, while Catholic Democrats and those who lean toward the Democratic Party tend to hold issue positions in common with other Democrats, including on abortion.”
Since 2000, Catholics have supported Democrat presidents three times and GOP candidates twice, according to exit polls.
This year, Catholics make up about a quarter of the national electorate. The Journal notes they are expected to play an important role in battleground states including Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
Trump and his supporters are calling out Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris for their position on abortions. Trump has put forward the names of two conservative judges, who are Catholic, to possibly fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz told viewers of the Republican National Convention that the “Biden-Harris ticket is the most radically pro-abortion campaign in history.” He called Biden a “Catholic in name only.”
Biden responded during an interview with MSNBC where he noted that he has been a practicing Catholic his entire life.
“My private beliefs relative to how I would deal with church doctrine is different than my imposing that doctrine on every other person in the world—equally decent Christians and Jews and Muslims and Buddhists,” he said.
A 2019 poll conducted by the Pew Research Center showed that most Catholics agree with Biden. Fifty-six percent of Catholics said abortion should be legal in all or most cases. In 2009, only 45% of Catholics polled felt that way.
A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted Sept. 13-16 indicates Biden has the advantage with Catholic voters over Trump, 49% to 46%.
Many Catholics are divided on whether to vote for Biden based on his abortion stance. Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, told the Journal that Biden is a Catholic from a “canonical and sacramental” perspective.
“Unfortunately, his public stance on a number of important issues is not at all in conformity with the faith,” he said.
But Bishop Robert W. McElroy of the Catholic Diocese of San Diego argued that a person’s Catholic identity couldn’t be simply reduced “to one’s political stance.”
“I believe it is inappropriate to withhold the Eucharist on the basis of one’s public positions,” he said. “Most Catholic bishops believe that.”
Biden has said he keeps his faith separate from his duties. In his 2007 book, “Promises to Keep,” he wrote that he is “personally opposed to abortion, but I don’t think I have a right to impose my view on the rest of society.”
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