Hypocrisy is a problem for more than Catholic politicians when it comes to the issue of abortion, but the divide between what the Catholic Church teaches and the actions of those who claim to be faithful followers will create worldwide headlines this month. This week, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on Doctrine opens a conversation on what to do about those who say one thing and do another, not once, but day in and day out and with taxpayer funding.
“Because President Biden is Catholic, it presents a unique problem for us,” Archbishop Joseph Naumann, chair the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told The Associated Press. “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?”
In some ways, hypocrisy over abortion is uniquely highlighted in the Catholic Church because Communion, during which believers honor Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for all, is to be received by those in good standing with the Church and to be denied to those who deliberately live in ways they know contradict Church teaching. The Protestant and Evangelical church worldwide have plenty of examples of people claiming to believe one thing but acting quite the opposite. Yet current events make possible a huge debate over whether you should enjoy the benefits of your church while daily and aggressively undermining what it teaches.
Mr. Biden wants to have his spiritual cake and eat it too. He advertises his faith as part of his lifestyle, and his “speeches are woven with references to God, biblical language or the pope,” reporters note.
But on the issue of abortion, Mr. Biden’s deeds are in direct opposition to those taught by his church. His administration has pursued the most radical abortion policies in U.S. history working to end limits on taxpayer-funded abortion, expand abortion through foreign aid, open the door to more inhumane experiments with the body parts of babies taken from abortions and allow deadly, on-line, no-test Chemical Abortion sales, to name a few. The personnel he has surrounded himself with also consistently embrace the most radical of abortion policies.
Many faithful Catholics find this heartbreaking. The Catholic Church rejects abortion and infanticide and always has. The USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities observes that “to claim that some live human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as ‘persons’ (based on changeable factors such as age, condition, location, or lack of mental or physical abilities) is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights. Such a claim undermines respect for the lives of many vulnerable people before and after birth.”
That conviction is shared by other Christians as well. The Bible directly references God’s deliberate creation of life, each with a unique make up and destiny. In Psalm 139, we read that God “created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother’s womb … I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
Because the need for the church to affirm the value and sacredness of all life, Catholics within Students for Life will lead “Follow Your Faith” Rallies this month, calling on the bishops to stand firm for the teachings of the Catholic Church.
Working every day with women considering abortion, we’ve seen firsthand the conflicts it causes when people can’t look to the leaders of their church for clear guidance on spiritual principles. When any church fails to lead on the moral issues of our day, other voices become loud and drown out the still, small voice of conscience.
The pretense that ending preborn life is negotiable creates chaos and confusion and must not stand unchallenged by people of faith or their leaders.
Catholic leadership delayed having this conversation until after the election, but it should be delayed no longer. The pro-life laity — ordinary people who worship and participate in the life of a church — are looking for clarity from the church in line with the scriptures that articulates the eternal worth of each life.
But other churches debating how clear to be on the issue of abortion should take note. We stand ready to confront them as well. Downplaying the significance of protecting young life cannot be ignored without deadly consequences for women and the preborn.
Our love and care for “the least of these” can’t be put on hold until a child is at the border or in need of an education. Opposing abortion as an act that ends a unique life, willed by God, and created with eternal worth and purpose, is the duty of the church, and we stand ready to hold the church accountable to practice what it preaches.
• Kristan Hawkins, a committed Catholic, is president of Students for Life of America. Follow her @KristanHawkins or subscribe to her podcast, “Explicitly Pro-Life.” Kristi Stone Hamrick, a life-long Protestant and the daughter and granddaughter of ministers, is chief media and policy strategist of Students for Life of America/SFLAction.