Senior cardinal at Vatican says Joe Biden should not be denied communion over abortion stance

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Cardinal Peter Turkson, a close aide of Pope Francis, said the denial of Communion should only be reserved for ‘extreme cases’ (Screengrab/Video)
Cardinal Peter Turkson, a close aide of Pope Francis, said the denial of Communion should only be reserved for ‘extreme cases’ (Screengrab/Video)

A top Vatican cardinal said US president Joe Biden should not be denied Communion because of his defence of abortion rights.

The comments come amid a push by some conservative US Catholic bishops to deny Communion to Mr Biden. Catholics believe the communion bread is the body of Jesus Christ and the wine is his blood.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, a close aide of Pope Francis, was asked about demands from US bishops to deny Communion to Mr Biden and other Catholic politicians for their support for legal abortion in an interview recently.

“The Eucharist should not in any way become a weapon,” Mr Turkson said in an interview to news website Axios on Saturday. “If you say somebody cannot receive Communion, you are basically doing a judgment that you are in a state of sin.”

When the interviewer asked whether this “state of sin” applied to Mr Biden, the Ghanian Cardinal who works closely with Pope Francis, replied with a “no”, adding that the denial of Communion should only be reserved for “extreme cases.”

The comments from the key Vatican cardinal come after Pope Francis, without naming anyone, said the pastors should not “go condemning” everything, making the Vatican’s position clear on a matter raised by the US bishops.

“What should a shepherd do? Be a shepherd and not going around condemning or not condemning,” the Pope said. “They must be a shepherd with god’s style. And god’s style is closeness, compassion and tenderness.”

A row over ousting Mr Biden – only the second Catholic president in American history and a regular churchgoer – started when some conservative Catholic US bishops demanded denying Communion to him.

The bishops also pushed for denying Communion to other Catholic politicians, such as House speaker Nancy Pelosi, over their support for abortion rights.

The administration of Mr Biden — a liberal Democrat — had recently urged the US Supreme Court not to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade ruling that legalised abortion in the country, concerning a restrictive Mississippi law.

Earlier, the Biden administration sued Texas, seeking to block enforcement of a new law almost entirely banning abortion in the state.

The US bishops are scheduled to vote on a new document on “eucharistic coherence” next month in response to the demands raised to deny Communion to Mr Biden and other Catholic politicians.

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