When former Vice President Joe Biden was allegedly denied communion at a Catholic parish in South Carolina last October for his stance in favor of abortion rights, it sparked a debate over the Democratic presidential front-runner’s Catholicism.
For conservative Catholics, it was a decision that the pastor in question made correctly.
Edward Peters, an expert in canon law, wrote an opinion piece for The Hill in which he said that “lest the enormity of abortion under Catholic moral analysis result in the impression that only a politician’s support for abortion falls within canon law’s notion of actionable ‘grave sin,’ note that many things can qualify as ‘grave sin’ and that, in Biden’s case, other misdeeds could figure in a decision to withhold the sacrament.
“For example, in 2016 Biden capped many years of public support for same-sex marriage by officiating at such a ceremony between White House staffers while vice president, an act perceived as a deliberate thumb in the eye of the church for teaching that marriage can exist only between a man and a woman. Biden thus compounded his open conflicts with church teachings.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan — inarguably America’s pre-eminent Catholic — emphasized the more liberal line.
While Dolan said he thought “that priest had a good point” and that Biden’s stance was “publicly at odds with an issue of substance, critical substance … about life and death in the church,” he quoted the pope’s stance on the matter:
“We also remember Pope Francis: ‘I personally can never judge the state of a person’s soul.’ So, it’s difficult, that’s what I’m saying. I’m not there as a tribunal, as a judge in distributing Holy Communion.”
All of which is to say that, within the church itself, there wasn’t any debate as to whether Biden was upholding the tenets of Catholicism — there was just a question as to whether he deserved to receive the sacrament of communion.
I would wager there were plenty of Catholics at the March for Life who would answer that question in the negative, given the fact that Fox News contributor Rachel Campos-Duffy said, when she attended the anti-abortion protest in Washington last week, she found more than a few who thought the current Protestant resident of the White House was a better Catholic than the Catholic running to replace him.
“Catholics were telling me [at the March For Life] that they thought Donald Trump was a better Catholic than Joe Biden,” Campos-Duffy told Todd Starnes on his radio show Monday.
Biden, for whatever it’s worth, doesn’t frequently take shelter behind the cross to duck criticism of his positions. The same can’t be said for South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, another target of Campos-Duffy’s ire.
It seems like no serious presidential candidate since the Rev. Pat Robertson’s one-issue 1988 campaign has invoked the specter of the Almighty so often when answering weighty questions. The difference is you get the feeling Robertson actually meant it.
Buttigieg’s invocation of his religious views comes across more as a challenge to his opponents to question his threadbare beliefs on policies with any kind of moral component to them. “I cannot abide by Donald Trump’s take on <insert controversial policy here> because I have to answer to my Creator, sir.”
Just don’t ask him to answer to the deity so unequivocally when it comes to abortion.
At a town hall meeting on Sunday, Buttigieg was asked by the president of Democrats for Life (yes, Virginia, they do exist — and, as National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis points out, they comprise roughly one-third of the party’s membership) whether he would “support more-moderate platform language in the Democratic Party to ensure that the party of diversity, of inclusion, really does include everybody?”
The best summation of his position is this: “The best I can offer is that if we can’t agree on where to draw the line, the next best thing we can do is agree on who should draw the line. And in my view, it’s the woman who’s faced with that decision in her own life.”
Which sounds like a very roundabout way of saying, “Sorry, but inclusion isn’t that inclusive.”
“As a Catholic, I know a lot of Catholics who say they’re pro-life, want to be pro-life, but continue to vote Democrat in this fantasy that somehow that tent is big enough for them,” Campos-Duffy told Starnes.
“Abortion animates the Democratic Party, and it is why Pete Buttigieg, who says he is a Christian, is willing to ignore the Scriptures that he is often quoting in order to not anger the forces of abortion within that party.”
This is why, quite frankly, a guy who hasn’t even taken first Communion, much less confession, confirmation and matrimony, within the Catholic Church is potentially considered more Catholic than Joe Biden is, at least among a certain crowd.
Personal opposition to abortion is a non-negotiable litmus test for members of the Catholic faith.
It isn’t that Biden thinks Roe v. Wade is the law of the land and that, while he finds it immoral, the 14th Amendment makes it clear that it’s a necessary constitutional evil. People who believe that don’t tweet stuff like this:
Roe v. Wade is the law of the land, and we must fight any and all attempts to overturn it. As president, I will codify Roe into law and ensure this choice remains between a woman and her doctor. https://t.co/kaJbYWcYhL
— Joe Biden (Text Join to 30330) (@JoeBiden) October 5, 2019
They also don’t suddenly start supporting the Hyde Amendment, a piece of legislation that prohibits federal funding for abortion. Biden, under pressure from the ascendant left wing of the party, announced last July he wanted to repeal a law he’d supported throughout his political career.
“We’ve seen state after state including Georgia passing extreme laws,” Biden said, according to The Washington Post, referring to restrictions on when abortions could be performed. “It’s clear that these folks are going to stop at nothing to get rid of Roe.”
“Circumstances have changed,” he added.
How attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade necessitates taxpayer funding of abortion at the federal level escapes me, and while I don’t claim to know the mind of the Almighty, I’m pretty sure it escapes His infinite wisdom, as well. It’s no wonder there are plenty of Catholics willing to adopt Donald Trump as their own, at least when you consider the alternative.
I have no reason to believe that Biden and Buttigieg are lying about the fact they’re men of faith out of matters of convenience. I also don’t think the president is lying about it, either. At some point, all of us are going to meet the Great Scorer and our lives on earth will be judged accordingly.
I can’t even begin to fathom a guess as to how it will go as a holistic matter for any of us. I’ll venture a guess on two things, though.
First, when it comes to abortion, I believe the president and I will be on the right side of eternity, and Biden and Buttigieg won’t be.
Second, I believe that, deep down, both Biden and Buttigieg know that, too.
If you agree with those two assumptions, I’ll leave you with this closing thought:
If you’re pro-life, especially if you’re a Democrat, you should ask yourself why you would ever consider voting for men who would choose party and power over the unborn.
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