Joe Biden, Pro-Choice Democrat, Crashes Pope Francis’ Party
Preparing for a possible run for president, and attempting to cash in politically on the visit of Pope Francis to the U.S., Vice President Joseph Biden has been polishing his Catholic credentials like a dusty set of rosary beads. He granted an emotional interview to America magazine, which is run by the Jesuit order.
In the interview, Biden fished out phrases from long-ago catechism classes, and deployed the favorite talking points of pro-choice “Catholic” groups — for instance, historical trivia such as Thomas Aquinas’ uncertainty about at what point God “ensouled” each unborn child. (Medieval biology was a work in progress, not to speak of medieval medicine!) Biden knows better; he is surely aware that Aquinas condemned abortion at any point in nine months of pregnancy as gravely evil, as all Christians had since the early Church. If any doctrine is apostolic, it is this one. What is more, this teaching was based not in scripture but science, in the knowledge that unborn children are distinct creatures from their mothers. You need not be a Christian, or even a theist, to see that such killing is wrong.
Not that it matters. Biden waves the Aquinas factoid around like a scarf in a sleight of hand, in support of his remarkable statement that determining when life begins is “above my pay grade.” (Will we have to elect him president for him to decide? Appoint him to the Supreme Court?) He then goes on to admit that he believes that “every abortion is wrong.” However, he follows Nancy Pelosi’s tortured logic, and asserts that this is a private, purely religious belief, akin to one’s faith in a guardian angel. As Biden says:
I’m prepared to accept as a matter of faith, my wife and I, my family, the issue of abortion, but what I’m not prepared to do is to impose a rigid view, a precise view, rigid sounds pejorative, a precise view that is born out of my faith, on other people who are equally God-fearing, equally as committed to life, equally as committed to the sanctity of life. I’m prepared to accept that at the moment of conception there’s human life and being, but I’m not prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-Godfearing people that have a different view.
Is it really possible for a human mind to function this way? What would Biden think of a Christian who watched a segregationist sheriff sic German shepherds on civil rights demonstrators, whose comment was: “As a Christian, I believe that all men are equal, but I won’t impose my private belief on that sheriff over there. His conscience is his own.” Biden would rightly think that the passive observer was either a coward or a racist.
If you believe that abortion is wrong it’s not because you think it’s tacky, or against some arcane church rule that only applies to Catholics. It’s because you know that it entails killing the innocent. Then how exactly do you justify keeping it legal through all nine months, for any reason, and funding it through the government to the tune of a half billion dollars per year? By replacing logical thought with muddled rhetoric like the following:
[Y]ou know, there’s even been disagreement in our church, not that — abortion is always wrong, but there’s been debate, and so, there’s, for me, at a point where the church makes a judgment, as we Catholics call, de fide doctrine, said, this is what our doctrine is. All the principles of my faith, I make no excuse for attempting to live up to — I don’t all the time. But I’m not prepared to impose doctrine that I’m prepared to accept on the rest of — and I actually had that discussion with Pope Benedict. It was — I had a wonderful meeting with him several months before he stepped down. It was like going back to theology class. And by the way, he wasn’t judgmental. He was open. I came away enlivened from the discussion.
Let’s unpack that masterful paragraph. First Biden suggests that there has been legitimate intra-Catholic debate on the morality of abortion. Then he catches himself and dials that back. He introduces the idea that at some point the Catholic church made a decision to condemn abortion — when in fact, the practice has been abhorred by Christians since the very beginning, as it was before them by faithful Jews. After that, he muddles doctrine with personal morality, and plays the humble sinner by admitting that he doesn’t “live up” to this church teaching. Assuming that Biden does not perform abortions himself, this suggests that he knows very well that he is complicit in keeping the practice legal, and that some of the blood of a million American children destroyed each year is on his hands. So he tries to wash them clean with fake penitence: “I make no excuse. …” See, nobody’s perfect!
In the very next sentence, Biden switches from repentant sinner to celebrity name-dropper, and falsely claims the authority of Pope Benedict XVI, suggesting that the former pope accepted Biden’s views, since their recent meeting was “wonderful,” “open,” and “non-judgmental.” Did Biden mistake the pope’s famous courtesy and tact for approval? Given Biden’s grasp of the niceties of polite behavior — just ask all those younger women whom he has creeped out during photo-ops — this is just barely possible.
Biden follows the Democratic playbook exactly by pretending that he is in agreement with Pope Francis on “fundamental religious convictions,” which can be drawn from a unitary, policy-specific “Catholic social doctrine.” (In fact, that kind of doctrine simply does not exist.) That teaching he sums up vaguely as “everyone is entitled to be treated with dignity.”
Certainly Biden has spared himself the experience of watching the Planned Parenthood videos. But he has heard enough news reports to understand what they contain: visual proof of the humanity of unborn children, evidence of their crass destruction for profit, and price negotiations over the parts of their butchered bodies. I wish that the Jesuit interviewing him had asked Mr. Biden where the dignity is in that.