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The Contradiction of Biden’s Apparent Catholic Faith and Legislative Stances

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. visited Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Wilmington, Del., where parishioners shared their anguish over racism and police brutality. Credit: Erin Schaff/The New York Times

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

On January 23, 2021, the New York Times published an article titled “In Biden’s Catholic Faith, an Ascendant Liberal Christianity.” In the headline, the article states, “President Biden, perhaps the most religiously observant commander in chief in half a century, speaks of how his Catholic faith grounds his life and his policies.”

First of all, Biden is arguably not the most religiously observant president in the last fifty years since George W. Bush and Jimmy Carter were incredibly vocal about their religious faith, saying famous Christian philosophers like Billy Graham changed their life.

However, the more important note to address is that Biden’s position on abortion, LGBTQ+, and contraception have raised questions about the validity of Biden’s proclaimed Catholic faith.

The author of the previously mentioned New York Times article, Elizabeth Dias, stated in the article that “While conservative Catholics have doubled down on abortion policy and religious freedom for the past four years, Mr. Biden’s policy priorities reflect those of Pope Francis, who has sought to turn the church’s attention from sexual politics to issues like environmental protection, poverty and migration.”

While the latter part of that statement may be true, given Pope Francis has expressed economically liberal positions, the leader of the Catholic Church still stingingly condemns Biden’s advocacy for abortion.

The Catholic Church, as a 2000-year-old institution that has survived war, famine, and disease, has been consistently clear about its strong denunciation of abortion. For example, one of the hallmarks of Catholic repentance is the confession of sin to a priest. Before that confession, to better mentally prepare a Catholic, some churches provide a pamphlet that details what is known as the Examination of Conscience. Within the Examination of Conscience, it asks the question, “Have I had an abortion, or advised or supported an abortion?”

Despite this, an NBC News opinion piece by Jamie Manson, the president of Catholics for Choice, stated, “Catholics increasingly express their support for reproductive rights, and the bishops who claim to speak for us have little understanding of the people in their pews.” To support this statement, the author cited a study from GBAO, a research consultant from Washington, that claimed a broad majority of Catholics say abortion should be legal.

First off, the problem with citing the majority of Catholics advocate for the legalization of abortion is that not every person who claims they are Catholic strictly abide by Catholic virtues. For example, an October Pew Research Poll found “Two-thirds of Catholics who attend Mass weekly or more often (67%) said abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, while one-in-three (33%) said it should be legal. The ratio is almost exactly reversed for those who attend less frequently.”

Secondly, Bishops do not, as the author says, speak for Catholics or act as representatives of the Catholic people; their role in the Catholic Church is to teach Catholic doctrine and Biblical lessons, representing the Catholic Church as an institution. Third, it is safe to conclude that the vast majority of Catholic Bishops are better well versed in the Bible and Catholic Church’s beliefs than the common Catholic, which means that even if the majority of Catholics say abortion should be legal, that does not reflect the principles of Catholicism.

Additionally, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a strong statement, “So, I must point out that our new president has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender.”

As a Roman Catholic, I agree with that statement, and so should anyone that believes in the Catholic faith. On the issue of marriage, however, I may be the minority among my Catholic peers when I say that I am in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage because the government should not regulate the marriage institution – provided some exceptions like the marriage between a minor and an adult.

Yet, the abortion issue is different because it is my firm belief that any practice that kills the fetus in the mother’s womb during any period in fetal development is murder, which warrants government intervention for the same reason murder is illegal. This position is not, by any means, influenced by a theological perception of morality or even my Catholic mentors; it is influenced by a culmination of prenatal and biological science that pinpoints the beginning of human development and life at the point of fertilization.

Aside from that point, the fact remains that it is theologically inconsistent to be pro-abortion and morally Catholic. I am not making the argument that Biden should legislate or govern based on Catholic morality but that he should stop calling himself 100% Catholic, especially if he codifies Roe V. Wade into federal law.

I do not doubt that religious faith has been a major factor in the president’s life, considering the experienced tremendous grief and sorrow in losing two children and a wife. I agree with Pope Francis’ message to Biden, “Under your leadership, may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding.” However, while I agree with this sentiment unless the president disavows abortion, he is not entirely a Catholic.

Remember, let’s be polite; let’s be respectful, but most of all, let’s be outspoken.

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