No Finer Time to be a Catholic?

Although many of us eagerly await the upcoming release of Crisis contributor Austin Ruse’s new book titled Under Siege: No Finer Time to be a Catholic (Crisis Publications, 2021), we cannot help but wonder which Catholics he is referring to in the subtitle. Certainly, it has been a fine time for the Catholic President Joseph Biden, who seems to have convinced the majority of Catholics who voted for him that being Catholic means that you can promote the most radical pro-abortion policies—destroying the lives of the most vulnerable among us—and still receive Communion on your Inauguration Day. Certainly, it has been a great time for Amanda Gorman, the celebrated young Catholic poet and Harvard graduate, who took time away from writing and reciting her pro-abortion poems to recite a poem to celebrate President Biden’s presidency on Inauguration Day. But, for the rest of us Catholics who feel under siege by a presidential administration focused on violating our religious freedom and removing protections from the most vulnerable among us,  it does not exactly seem like a “fine time.”  

Indeed, while much of the media is applauding the expansion of abortion rights through the removal of the Mexico City policy which, until Biden’s Executive Order, disallowed funding for abortion overseas, faithful Catholics anticipate even more draconian policies—Biden has promised to enshrine abortion rights into federal law so that even if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion will be widely available. 

Beyond abortion, and counter to the Natural Law on creation, Biden devoted his first Executive Orders to expanding transgender rights by reversing what he called the “discriminatory actions” against the transgender community that the Trump administration enacted. This was no surprise, as President Biden’s 2020 campaign website promised that: “The Equality Act is the best vehicle for ensuring equal rights under the law for LGBTQ+ Americans, and will guarantee that LGBTQ+ individuals are protected under civil rights laws.”

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One of the “discriminatory actions” that Biden is referring to is the Trump administration’s attempt to protect young female athletes from the unfair encroachment into women’s high school sports by biological males who believe they are female, and want to compete as females. President Trump’s Department of Education responded to a complaint filed last year by several Connecticut female track athletes who argued that biological males had an unfair physical advantage. The complaint—which was filed in federal court—sought to block biological male athletes from participating in girls’ sports. The complaint maintained that allowing biological male athletes to compete against girls violates Title IX. 

Biden’s actions invalidate all states’ attempts to protect these young women—destroying the equality women have worked for since the earliest days of the women’s rights movement more than a century ago. But beyond athletics, Biden’s promised passage of the Equality Act will remove conscience protections for Catholics and other people of faith. Most people do not realize that the Equality Act will trump the Religious Freedom Restoration Act—limiting the reach of the protections that the Religious Freedom Act provides. Because of that, Catholic schools—under the Equality Act—will be heavily regulated by the Biden administration with respect to sexual orientation and gender identity. All religious schools will be forced to hire those who do not share the teachings and beliefs of the sponsoring religious school if a lawsuit is brought by the protected LGBTQ+ community. These same schools will be unable to fire any employee who claims protection under the Equality Act. 

For Catholics and all people of faith, the threat from the Biden’s overreach is significant. On his campaign website, Biden promised that he will “empower federal agencies to be champions for equality…nominating and appointing federal officials and judges who represent the diversity of American people, including LGBTQ+ people…and he will ensure that we give the agencies charged with enforcing our non-discrimination laws the funds they need to fully pursue this obligation.” This means that the Biden administration will be prosecuting those who do not comply.

These are not empty threats. Some of us know from personal experience that the Obama-Biden administration was willing to weaponize the IRS and other federal agencies in order to punish their political enemies and please their supporters.

Still, the media—including some of the mainstream Catholic media—is celebrating the fact that this is the “most Catholic presidential administration” in history. In an article in the official news outlet for the Philadelphia Diocese, Catholic Philly, the celebratory headline reads: “Nine Catholics Nominated to Cabinet Level Jobs in Biden Administration.” Several of the nine—including John Kerry, and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra—have already been shown to support some of the most extreme pro-abortion policies—including partial birth abortion. And although Catholic Philly acknowledges that there have been protests by faithful Catholics of Kerry and Becerra’s pro-abortion policies, there is little analysis of their records. 

One of the nine Catholics, Rhode Island’s Governor since 2015, Gena Raimondo, who has been nominated to be Secretary of Commerce, has the dubious distinction of being the most pro-abortion Governor the State has ever elected. Pledging her support for House Bill 5127, the Reproductive Health Care Act, which would eliminate any constitutional restrictions on late term abortion and remove any constitutional restrictions on methods of abortion for the future, Raimondo has shown support for policies allowing abortion up until the moment of birth—by any methods necessary to terminate the life of the unborn child. Yet, Catholic Philly boosted Raimondo’s Catholic bona fides by reporting that she served on the Board of La Salle Academy, the prestigious Rhode Island Catholic prep school. What Catholic Philly did not mention, was that in September of 2014, La Salle removed Raimondo’s photo from the “Wall of Notables” in an attempt to distance the school from the pro-abortion governor. 

To be sure, Ruse is right that it is indeed No Finer Time to be Catholic—for the pro-abortion, transgender-rights-promoting Biden administration. The most pro-abortion Catholic politicians in the country have been rewarded with prestigious positions in the administration. But, Ruse does not promise us that “finer” means that it will be an “easy time” for faithful Catholics. His book, whose main title is Under Siege, reminds us that it is a great time for faithful Catholics because we are now given the opportunity to truly sacrifice and perhaps even suffer for the faith. We are now given the opportunity to proudly stand for the most vulnerable—the unborn, the elderly, the poor and disenfranchised—the ones who truly need our protection. Just as Christ called on his Disciples to “give up” everything to follow Him, we are being called to do the same. 

These truly are the “best of times,” even though they may seem at times “the worst of times.” At the same time the young pro-choice poet was being lauded for her progressive views on a woman’s right to choose abortion on Inauguration Day, thousands of Gen Z pro-life Catholic students throughout the country marched to support life under the banner of the Students for Life. At Franciscan University of Steubenville, hundreds of students participated in Masses, prayer vigils, Rosary Walks and a silent Pro-life March to mark the tragic January Anniversary of Roe v Wade. Ave Maria University students did the same—as did students at faithful Catholic colleges throughout the country.

While the Biden presidency will be a very dark time for faithful Catholics—and all people of faith—we can provide hope and light in the darkness. There really is no other choice than to do all we can to make this a “fine” time to be Catholic.

[Photo Credit: Catholic News Agency]

  • Anne Hendershott

    Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville, OH. She is the author of The Politics of Envy (Crisis Publications, 2020).

tagged as: Catholic Living

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