The Scandal of “Catholic” Joe Biden Continues

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Joe Biden’s statements continue to be a major problem for Americans and especially for Catholics.

We have seen this across the board with Biden, including crucial remarks about Vladimir Putin and Russia, where he constantly needs correction by his staff. But for Catholics, Biden has been particularly damaging on moral-cultural issues, where he is creating embarrassment and scandal for his Church. His destructive statements constitute a long list, but to make this article simple, let’s stick with merely the most recent.

On the matter of unborn human life, Biden just dropped this whopper on the general public and people of his Church: “Roe says what all basic mainstream religions have historically concluded, that the existence of a human life and being is a question. Is it at the moment of conception? Is it six months? Is it six weeks? Is it quickening, like Aquinas argued?”

This assertion from Biden is particularly egregious. Americans definitely don’t want this man speaking as an authority on where “all” mainstream religions define the existence of life, particularly given that, for starters, he evidently doesn’t know where his own religion stands. Go online and you’ll find numerous Protestants correcting Biden.

What Biden said is obviously not what Biden’s Catholic Church teaches. This is not theology according to the Catechism or the Scriptures. I have long accepted the suffering task of following Speaker Nancy Pelosi—another lifelong and “pro-choice” Catholic—and I can tell you that Biden is echoing here not the theology of his Church but the theology of Nancy Pelosi.

Pelosi has long said the same thing, in her case invoking not Aquinas but Augustine. In August 2008, when asked, “When does life begin?” by Tom Brokaw on NBC’s Meet the Press, Pelosi authoritatively spoke for her Church and even the Church Fathers. “I would say that, as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time,” related a scholarly Pelosi to a national TV audience. “And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition. And Senator—Saint Augustine—said at three months. We don’t know. The point is that it shouldn’t have an impact on a woman’s right to choose.”

I would recommend to the Catholic president of the United States to listen to his Catechism rather than Nancy Pelosi.

Quite interestingly, then-Senator Joe Biden, back in 2008, was likewise asked by Tom Brokaw about when life begins. He was asked two weeks after Brokaw had asked Pelosi, as a follow up to Pelosi’s answer. Biden’s answer then was different, and it has been forgotten in the current outrage over his statement last week. 

It was September 7, 2008, shortly before the presidential election. Biden appeared on Meet the Press, where he was asked by Brokaw: “If Senator Obama comes to you and says, ‘When does life begin? Help me out here, Joe,’ as a Roman Catholic, what would you say to him?” Here was Biden’s answer:

I’d say, “Look, I know when it begins for me.” It’s a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I’m prepared to accept the teachings of my church. But let me tell you. There are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths—Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others—who have a different view. They believe in God as strongly as I do. They’re intensely as religious as I am religious. They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life—I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society. 

Note Biden’s response: “I know when it begins for me.” He said forcefully: “For me, as a Roman Catholic, I am prepared to accept the teachings of my church.”

What did that mean?

Biden translated, explaining that while he personally believed (along with his Church) that life begins “at the moment of conception,” other people of other faiths have different definitions. Thus, “For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am, seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.”

Biden’s judgment, of course, was that even though life begins at conception, a mother should have the legal right nonetheless to terminate that life. Needless to say, this is not the teaching of his Church.

The bishops didn’t hesitate to respond to Biden at the time. Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, issued a statement saying that Biden’s remarks do “not reflect Catholic teaching.” The bishops responded by noting that the Church does not teach that life begins at conception “as a matter of faith” but, rather, “as a matter of objective fact.”

Biden also caught the bishops’ attention with his remark to Brokaw about how a public official like himself allegedly cannot “impose” his moral values on other Americans. This is one of the nonsensical claims that liberals reserve exclusively for issues like abortion and not for, say, civil rights, the environment, tax cuts, endless matters of “social justice,” and on and on. 

Biden’s bishop, Michael Saltarelli, was in no mood for that one, stating: “No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.’ Likewise, none of us should accept this statement from any public servant: ‘I am personally opposed to abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative arena.’”

Has Biden changed his understanding since 2008, or is he now just confused? The answer is likely both. He continues to radicalize on abortion, just as in June 2019 he flipped his lifelong support of the Hyde Amendment under the relentless badgering of a hysterical Elizabeth Warren and a scowling Kamala Harris. 

Joe Biden has become a cultural radical across the board. Look at his stance on “LGBTQIA+” issues. Again, there have been so many Biden statements. To cite merely one from recent weeks, when he celebrated “Transgender Day of Visibility,” Biden asserted: “To everyone celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility, I want you to know that your president sees you—Jill, Kamala, Doug, our entire administration sees you—for who you are: made an image of God and deserving of dignity, respect and support.”

This was a striking statement. For the record, of course everyone is made in the image of God and deserving of dignity and respect. That includes every individual struggling with gender-identity issues. No one should say that a transgender person was not made in the image of God. But this is a curious statement to make in the context of seeking to attempt to change one’s God-given gender. God made us male and female (see: Genesis).

Among these, Biden’s abortion statements could not come at a worse time, as the nation readies for the clear possibility that the Supreme Court will overrule Roe v. Wade. The pro-life Catholic justices are being vilified and targeted by abortion fanatics. Those forces will not be condemning Joe Biden. He is their ally, so much so that he tosses around inaccurate theological-historical statements about his Church and human life.

His allies, of course, include the pro-life Catholics who voted for him in 2020. I wrote an article for Crisis last September on how those Catholics need to make reparation by contacting the White House and urging Biden to stop creating scandal like this. I pleaded with those Catholics to do so. I regretted that they very likely would not. 

Biden is their guy, the man they elected, and they have a moral responsibility to hold him accountable. They need to make amends, to try to help fix this situation, for the good of their Church, their country, and first and foremost for the unborn. “Silently accepting this affront is not an option,” I wrote. “If you do nothing, you will only make the situation—and your Catholic president—worse. And really, why wouldn’t you do something?”

Well, Biden is getting much worse. 

I again ask those pro-life Catholics who voted for Biden: Have you sent even one email or made one phone call to the White House? Are you doing something?

If I voted for a Catholic causing this kind of damaged, I would be sick. At the very least, I’d accept the obligation to try to make things a little better. Please, help. This is scandalous.

[Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images]

By

Paul Kengor is Professor of Political Science at Grove City College, executive director of the Center for Vision and Values. He is the author, most recently, of The Devil and Karl Marx (TAN Books, 2020).

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