Is President Joe Biden “very Catholic”? The Washington Post seems to think so, as do most corporate media outlets, which regularly fawn over Biden’s outward displays of piety while regularly showing contempt for the doctrines of the faith he professes.
Maybe they just take Biden’s word for it. After all, the president makes much of his regular Mass attendance, and has long boasted about how important his Catholic faith is to him.
But ordinary Catholics — and even some Catholic bishops, it turns out — know better. They know that despite Biden’s outward shows of faith, he openly flouts church teaching and doctrine on major issues like abortion and gay marriage, and has for many years.
Now that he’s president (only the second Catholic ever to hold the office), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is debating whether to rebuke Biden publicly and instruct him not to receive Holy Communion until he repents and reverses his support for abortion, which the church considers to be a mortal sin and a grave moral evil. The bishops are meeting in June, and the question of what to do about Biden’s abortion boosterism is apparently on the table.
A rising group of right-wing U.S. Catholic bishops is colliding with a very Catholic president who supports abortion rights. https://t.co/A351JzqRjB
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 28, 2021
Why would church leaders consider denying Communion to Biden? Because in the Catholic Church, Communion, or the Eucharist, is the “Sacrament of Sacraments,” in which the faithful encounter Jesus Christ himself — body, blood, soul, and divinity. Taking Communion in a state of mortal sin, Catholics believe, endangers a person’s immortal soul.
The purpose of denying Communion to Biden wouldn’t be to embarrass or even to punish, but to discipline. The hope is that he repents, changes his ways, and comes back into the fold, where he can once again receive Communion.
Setting aside the Post’s inaccurate portrayal of the issue as one that concerns only “right-wing” bishops (there are no “right-wing” bishops; there are faithful bishops and unfaithful ones), the question of Communion for Biden looms large simply because he’s the president. Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told the Associated Press that having a pro-abortion Catholic president “presents a unique problem for us. It can create confusion. … How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching?”
Good question — not that Biden seems to care what Naumann or the rest of the church says on the matter. On his first day in office, for example, Biden rescinded the Mexico City Policy, which bans U.S. government funding of abortions overseas, and directed the Health and Human Services Department to rescind a rule blocking health-care providers that receive federal funding from referring patients for abortions.
According to Catholic doctrine, it’s a mortal sin to have any involvement in an abortion, whether directly or indirectly — including through advice, encouragement, funding or otherwise facilitating it. The Catholic Church has also said, time and again, that Catholic politicians must not vote for or support any laws that support, sustain, or promote abortion. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2002, echoing Pope John Paul II, said that “those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life. For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”
So there’s not really any debate whether, in the eyes of the church, Biden is right or wrong on abortion. He’s wrong, period, and has been for a long time.
The only question, then, is what Catholic leaders are prepared to do about it. Will they stand up for the inviolable moral truth that abortion is a grave evil and that those who support it are unfit to receive Communion? Or will they come up with some mealy-mouthed excuse for saying and doing nothing, while Biden and the media continue to tout his supposed devotion to a faith whose tenets he rejects?