Denver bishop to Biden: Abortion "foundational" issue

Archbishop Charles Chaput has issued a more direct response to a Catholic politician than seen in many years.  Chaput takes Joe Biden to task for his strange and contradictory statements on Catholicism and abortion, and indirectly addresses Nancy Pelosi at the same time.  He destroys the argument that Catholics can support abortion and calls on Catholics to understand the difference between social-justice programs and abortion:

In 2008, although NBC probably didn’t intend it, Meet the Press has become a national window on the flawed moral reasoning of some Catholic public servants.On August 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, describing herself as an ardent, practicing Catholic, misrepresented the overwhelming body of Catholic teaching against abortion to the show’s nationwide audience, while defending her “pro-choice” abortion views. On September 7, Sen. Joseph Biden compounded the problem to the same Meet the Press audience.

Sen. Biden is a man of distinguished public service. That doesn’t excuse poor logic or bad facts.Asked when life begins, Sen. Biden said that, “it’s a personal and private issue.” But in reality, modern biology knows exactly when human life begins: at the moment of conception. Religion has nothing to do with it. People might argue when human “personhood” begins – though that leads public policy in very dangerous directions – but no one can any longer claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion. …

Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always, grievously wrong. If, as Sen. Biden said, “I’m prepared as a matter of faith [emphasis added] to accept that life begins at the moment of conception,” then he is not merely wrong about the science of new life; he also fails to defend the innocent life he already knows is there.

I’ve written about the difference between social-justice policies and abortion in Catholic doctrine at least twice now, and it’s good to see the Church making the same distinction.  They need to make this explicit, because Biden and Pelosi aren’t the only members of the flock who basically bargain socialist policy stands of poverty and health care in order to “buy” their support of abortion.  Abortion and explicit cooperation in abortion carry an automatic excommunication from the Church, a burden not found often in the catechism.  That is why Chaput calls it “foundational”; respect for human life springs from this belief that humans are at their conception sacred.

Chaput gives faint praise to Biden’s opposition to public funding for abortion, which he has trotted out this election cycle, but that doesn’t appear consistent, either, according to the pro-life site Life News:

As recently as February, Biden voted against an amendment that would permanently prevent abortion funding at Indian health care service facilities. The amendment from Sen. David Vitter would codify a longstanding policy against funding of abortions with federal Indian Health Service (IHS) funds. …

In April 2005, Biden voted against the Mexico City Policy, which President Bush instituted to prohibit taxpayer funding of groups that promote or perform abortions overseas. He also voted for international abortion funding in July 2003.

In a May 2003 vote, Biden also voted for a pro-abortion amendment to repeal the law that prohibits performance of abortions of military base hospitals, all of which are taxpayer-funded. …

Biden voted for taxpayer-funded abortions at military base medical centers in June 2002 as well along with votes in May 1999 and June 2000.

Biden represents himself as a Catholic and a moderate.  He’s neither, at least not in terms of his stands on abortion.  Instead, he presents a convenient Catholic for the pro-abortion lobby, one that can help bully Catholics into silence on the issue, or worse, mislead them into thinking abortion fits within Catholic doctrine. Chaput’s conclusion hits hard on this point:

American Catholics have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their “pro-choice” beliefs on American society without any remorse for decades.If we claim to be Catholic, then American Catholics, including public officials who describe themselves as Catholic, need to act accordingly. We need to put an end to Roe and the industry of permissive abortion it enables. Otherwise all of us – from senators and members of Congress, to Catholic laypeople in the pews – fail not only as believers and disciples, but also as citizens.

Catholicism is a voluntary association.  No one is forced to be Catholic.  If Pelosi can’t accept the foundational teachings of the Church, then she should find a church that supports abortion and stop making ridiculous rationalizations about Catholicism.  Biden needs something more if he believes human life begins at conception and fails to act to protect it.  It’s time for Catholics to demand that politicians who run on their faith begin to act on it as well.