Over the weekend, Democratic president candidate Joe Biden visited a Catholic church in South Carolina where he was allegedly denied communion by Reverend Robert Morey. While the Biden camp hasn’t confirmed this story, Morey said he did it because Biden is pro-choice. It wouldn’t be the first time an outspoken pro-choice politician has been denied the sacrament from the Catholic Church.
But the move wasn’t universally praised by Christians. Many people said it was wrong for Morey to reject anyone who requested the consecrated wafer. His job, after all, is to give communion to those who want it, not play God and judge who’s worthy of it.
Of the many criticisms of Morey’s denial, one in particular stood out. It came from Reverend Nathan Empsall, an Episcopalian priest:
“It isn’t about politics,” the Rev. Nathan Empsall, an Episcopalian priest and Faithful America’s campaigns director, said Tuesday, expressing displeasure about past threats to deny communion to Democratic politicians including Kerry and Tim Kaine. “Jesus said, ‘take, eat, when you do this, do this in remembrance of me.’ He didn’t say, ’take, eat but, only if you agree with certain American political positions.”
It didn’t take long for Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, to rip into Empsall for his inclusivity and empathy.
Donohue is furious that Empsall even commented on an issue that didn’t involve Episcopalians.
Religious leaders abide by an unspoken rule not to stick their noses into the affairs of another religion. This has been violated by Episcopalian priest Rev. Nathan Empsall. He is lecturing Catholics on the Church’s teachings on Holy Communion.
Empsall is an embarrassment. He heads an entity, Faithful America, that has a record of attacking religious liberty and free speech. It also seeks to create discord in the Catholic Church.
What “unspoken rule” is this? Commenting on the bad decisions other people make is literally what everyone does all the time. It’s no different for religious leaders.
Also, Episcopalians are a branch of the Catholic church! They’re not part of “another religion,” no matter how much the centuries-old separation irks Donohue.
There’s a case to be made that Catholics create their own discord by elevating the sin of supporting legal abortion over other sins that have serious social consequences, such as support for the death penalty, racism, LGBTQ rights, and social reforms that help the poor by raising taxes on the rich. There’s no reason abortion should be treated like a greater crime than the rest.
Donohue also complained about how Empsall launched a petition to get Morey to apologize for his actions, calling it “laughable.”
His whole complaint, as usual, is off the mark. It’s hard for someone like Empsall to “mind [his] own business” when (a) religion is literally his business and (2) this was a public event that has made headlines all over the country. Reading the news and sharing an opinion is hardly “butting in” where one doesn’t belong.
But that’s never stopped Donohue from criticizing non-Catholics whenever he feels like it.