The Scandal of Joe Biden

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“Day to day pours forth speech,” we read in the Psalms; and so it does. Having read the news these past few mornings, and listened to some of the broadcasts, I’ve since been preoccupied by two questions. The first concerns Hillary Clinton: Why is the lady not in jail, or at least in the dock? The second has to do with her former colleague, Joe Biden: Why hasn’t he been widely refused Communion by the Church of Rome?

Mrs. Clinton, as we have learned from the declassification of notes made by John Brennan, then Director of the CIA, about the briefing he gave President Obama on July 28, 2016, appears to have invented the Russian collusion hoax with the intent to divert attention from the scandal surrounding the use of her home computer to conduct matters of state. Once it had set the plot in motion her campaign hired Christopher Steele, a onetime British spy, to compile a dossier of rumors and disinformation it then provided to James Comey at the FBI and the media. Though Comey claims to “recall” nothing of this intrigue, four years later ample evidence exists to support a criminal investigation, followed by an indictment of the former Secretary of State and First Lady, and others. Where is it?

As for Mr. Biden, direct evidence to support this is that he has brazenly advertised his support for the unlimited right to an abortion almost to the point of boasting about it, and with the noisy encouragement of his supporters—“Catholics for Biden” and the rest of them—including, of course, the media.

Biden has gone mostly unchallenged over the years by the priests to whom he has presented himself for Holy Communion. Last October, Timothy Cardinal Dolan of New York City defended the parish pastor of St. Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, South Carolina, for having refused the sacrament of the Eucharist to Biden. “Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching,” Father Robert E. Morey explained afterward. But Cardinal Dolan said that he would have handled the matter differently, though without explaining how. Meanwhile Biden’s bishops in Delaware have been indulging him; the current one, Bishop William Malooly, promises that he will not “politicize” the sacramaent by denying it to pro-choice politicians.

Raymond Cardinal Burke, a canon lawyer and former prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, stated categorically a year ago, however, that no Catholic politician who supports abortion should receive Holy Communion, including Joe Biden. He “has not only been actively supporting procured abortion in our country but has announced publicly in his campaign that he intends to make the practice of procured abortion available to everyone in the widest possible form and to repeal the restrictions on this practice which have been put in place,” His Eminence said. By approaching Holy Communion, Mr. Biden jeopardizes his own soul, while giving scandal to everyone else.

Illegal acts officially ignored or condoned are nothing new in the history of the Catholic Church and the U.S. federal government. Nevertheless, the Democrats’ Russian hoax, including the numerous lies and the political resistance it entailed during the past four years, is exactly what partisans of President Trump say it is—the most egregious political crime in American history.

Similarly, the Church’s willingness to minimize and even overlook the flouting of canon law in so critical an issue as abortion for the convenience of liberal politicians is equally grave. No Borgia has occupied the Chair of Saint Peter for centuries now, but the Borgias’ crimes were personal and circumscribed ones. The refusal of many Catholic pastors and prelates, by contrast, to follow firmly and uncompromisingly the Church’s teaching about the sanctity of human life and the full humanity of an unborn child is as serious a crime as the sexual abuses that have plagued, embarrassed, and compromised the Church since the Second World War, even if secular law does not see it that way.

There is a parallel here between malfeasance in secular and ecclesiastical institutions. Each seems a reflection of the other. Each is the result of a collapse of personal integrity, institutional responsibility, and the growth of public moral decay in the 21st century.

Resistance requires moral and intellectual strength, which in turn requires a commitment to a system of belief that supports and encourages both. In this respect, Christianity has been the ultimate system for two thousand years. Now the Church herself seems to have been tempted by liberal thought, secular ideals, and the natural urge to conform into following the state’s by relaxing her enforcement of canon law. This is truly a disastrous state of affairs. When the salt has lost its savor, what can replace it?

[Photo credit: Mark Makela/Getty Images News]

Chilton Williamson, Jr.

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Chilton Williamson, Jr. is a senior contributor at Crisis. He is the former editor of Chronicles magazine, and his column "Prejudices" appears in The Spectator USA. He is the author of After Tocqueville (ISI, 2012) and the novel Jerusalem, Jerusalem! (Chronicles Press, 2017). For over a decade he served as literary editor, then senior editor, at National Review. He blogs at chiltonwilliamson.com.

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