Biden: The Catholic Church approves of abortion in some cases, you know

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

No, my dude, it does not. The Catholic Church might take exception with Lindsey Graham’s bill on the grounds that it allows for abortion at all, in fact.

However, Joe Biden’s professed home of faith does not grant dispensation for the exceptions of rape and incest — or any dispensations on abortion at all. That’s what the Theologian in Chief claims, nonetheless:

President Biden is taking Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) and other Republicans to task over a proposed nationwide abortion ban, a topic set to be a galvanizing issue in the midterm elections.

“Think about what these guys are talking about,” Biden told a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York this week. “No exceptions — rape, incest — no exceptions, regardless of age,” he said of the proposed ban.

“I happen to be a practicing Roman Catholic,” he added. “My church doesn’t even make that argument now.”

Oddly, in its entire report, the Washington Post makes no effort whatsoever to check that claim against Catholic teachings. Despite making that claim its headline and its lead, the Post avoids the issue by spending most of the rest of its report on Graham and his 15-week abortion ban proposal. That proposal would definitely draw the ire of the Catholic Church, but not for its supposed lack of options for incest and rape … which by 15 weeks would likely be moot anyway. In cases of incest or rape, wouldn’t those conditions already be well known and fit within the time frame Graham sets in this bill?

Back to the Theologian in Chief, though. I have pointed out on numerous occasions that the Catechism — the official doctrinal document for the laity on Catholic teachings — makes plain its opposition to abortion under any circumstances. Paragraph 2271 notes that the church from its infancy (pun intended) has “affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion,” emphasis mine. “This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable,” it goes on to state, which entirely refutes Biden’s claim that the teaching has changed on abortion.

In fact, the issue of abortion takes up several paragraphs of the Catechism (2270-75), and in every clause makes it clear that the Catholic Church opposes all abortions regardless of circumstance. Paragraph 2273 expands on that to teach that the protection of innocent human life, especially in utero, is a fundamental bedrock of civilized society:

The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

“The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority. These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin. Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being’s right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death.”80

“The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law. When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined. . . . As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child’s rights.”8

If that’s not clear enough, canon law makes it even clearer. Anyone — anyone — who provides “formal cooperation” in an abortion under any circumstances is instantly excommunicated in the commission of the act:

Canon Number 1398 states, in Latin and English, Qui abortum procurat, effectu secuto, in excommunicationem, latae sententiae, incurrat (Those who successfully abort a living human fetus bring on themselves instant excommunication).6

Qui abortum procurat means anyone who works to kill a human fetus in any manner at all.  This is not only the abortionist; it may be the boyfriend or husband who drives the mother to the abortion mill, pays for the abortion in full or in part, or who even advises that abortion may be an option in her case.

Latae sententiae means that the person brings instant excommunication upon himself or herself with his act.  No solemn pronouncement need be made by the Church or a bishop or priest, and no one else need even know about the abortion.  For automatic excommunication to take place, the woman must freely choose abortion.  If this is the case, she is cut off from the sacraments until she sincerely repents and makes a good confession.  This sanction also applies to the abortionist, attending nurse or counselor, and anyone else who assists in the abortion.7 …

In fact, the United States Catholic Bishops have stated quite clearly that one cannot be Catholic and support even the general concept of abortion: “At this particular time abortion has become the fundamental human rights issue for all men and women of good will….No Catholic can responsibly take a ‘pro-choice’ stand when the ‘choice’ involves the taking of innocent human life.”8  In other words, the term “pro-choice Catholic” is the ultimate oxymoron.

Put simply, the focus of Catholic teaching is on the sacramental nature of life and the requirement to protect it regardless of the circumstances around it. That life begins at conception — a scientific fact as well as theological doctrine — and so Catholic teaching centers on that in the abortion debate. It is never licit to do evil as a means of doing good, and since abortion kills human life, it is a “grave moral evil,” as the Catechism states.

Now, it’s certainly fine to disagree with it, and to not be Catholic. But rather than choose to do either, Biden flat-out lies about Catholic teaching and the Catholic Church in his claim instead. And oddly, the Washington Post seems entirely uninterested in reporting on a position that Catholics have taught for two thousand years, at least since the Didache, circa 70 AD. That in itself is rather curious, no?