For Wales? Why, Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world … But for Wales!
— Robert Bolt, “A Man For All Seasons”
Joe Biden has a problem: He sold his soul.
I knew this when I heard him say he had changed his mind on the Hyde Amendment. The Hyde Amendment is a law that protected Americans from having their tax money used to pay for abortions. Mr. Biden abandoned a principled position he held for 40 years. Why? I can’t judge him, but apparently it was because he wanted to be president more than he wanted to be Catholic, and the Hyde Amendment stood in his way.
Joe Biden is a Catholic. And the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a grave moral evil, in which no Catholic may ever take part in any way or to any degree.
Some months ago Mr. Biden was at Mass in South Carolina and attempted to go to Holy Communion. The priest refused to give it to him. It was his duty to refuse Mr. Biden. He was following Vatican guidelines that no Catholic politician may present herself or himself for communion if they support abortion. It is intended as a warning that their soul is in jeopardy.
When questioned about this, Mr. Biden said that he received communion from Pope Francis. Ridiculous, because the pope probably didn’t know who Joe was, and if he did, he probably didn’t know his position on abortion. The pope is busy enough without keeping track of Joe Biden. Besides, it was up to Mr. Biden to know he shouldn’t go to communion, not the pope. So what are we to make of this? That Mr. Biden put one over on the pope? Ridiculous.
OK, Joe, let’s go, Catholic to Catholic.
You can support abortion or serve Christ but not both at the same time. Take your pick. Read “A Man for all Seasons.” Joe, you should have learned this lesson in South Carolina; if not from all those letters from bishops.
Mr. Biden has a history of making strange comments on the subject. In 2007, on “Meet the Press,” he said, “Look, I’m a practicing Catholic, and it is the biggest dilemma for me in terms of comporting my religious and cultural views with my political responsibility.”
Why should his religious and cultural beliefs conflict with his political responsibility? Which comes first? Did he have to leave his faith by the door when he entered the Senate chamber? It seems the noble and natural thing to do would be to be guided by his religious beliefs when entering the Senate chamber.
What is guiding him? Does he need to sell out his faith to work in the Senate? Does he owe something to the abortion lobby? Is he split in two? It’s a matter of integrity. His faith and his political calling should be one.
When Catholics are in their early teens are confirmed, the bishop tells us we are now “soldiers for Christ.” As a Catholic and a statesman he should be abortion’s fiercest enemy. Otherwise … what a waste.
Which, for Joe, takes precedence? Left-wing pro-abortion zealots, crazies, or church teaching? Can’t Mr. Biden stand tall and be his own man and follow his conscience as guided by the church? Is he a believer? Does he know that his immortal soul hangs in the balance? (Which is, of course, what Catholics believe.) He could be a hero. He could be another St. Thomas More. The great Henry Hyde didn’t have this conflict.
Is it his political responsibility to support abortion? Or to follow his conscience? In Joe’s case, that does indeed seem to be his dilemma. Joe Biden is now 77, a time when conscientious Catholics reflect on their lives with an eye to their eternal destiny in preparation for death. But Mr. Biden seems to have decided, tragically, on the wrong side.
Just to be clear, let’s look at the actual teaching that applies most directly to pro-abortion Catholic politicians:
“In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it”. — No. 73, Evangelium Vitae, Pope Saint John Paul II, 25 March 1995; quoted from The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Procured Abortion, 18 November 1974, No. 22.
Joe Biden has a decision to make.
“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?”
— Mark 8:36
• John Mallon holds degrees in theology and is retired as contributing editor of Inside the Vatican magazine.