Joe Biden is a “devout Catholic” — or so his press secretary announced to reporters during the incoming administration’s first news briefing.
It’s a claim that those of us who follow politics have heard many times from Biden. During his most recent campaign for president, Biden released a campaign ad insisting that he had decided to challenge Donald Trump after a chance encounter with nuns in the Vatican.
We should never judge another man’s relationship with God, nor place limits on God’s mercy — but one need not scrutinize Joe Biden’s conscience to note that several of his highest public policy priorities directly contradict non-negotiable teachings of the faith he professes.
Out of one side of his mouth, President Biden says he finds in Catholic nuns his inspiration, while he vows out of the other to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor if they fail to provide abortion-inducing drugs to their employees.
Why did Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary, take the time during her very first press briefing to inform media members that President Biden is a devout Catholic?
Her comment came in an effort to dodge to a question about whether Biden will roll back the Mexico City policy, which prevents U.S. aid money from funding global abortions, and the Hyde amendment, which prevents federal entitlement programs from directly reimbursing for abortion procedures here in the U.S.
“I don’t have anything more for you on that,” Psaki told reporters. She offered merely the reminder that Biden is a “devout Catholic.”
In other words, this administration’s spokesperson appears prepared to invoke the president’s Catholic faith in order to escape scrutiny about his planned policy position on government-funded abortion. Reports on Thursday morning indicated that, his Catholicism notwithstanding, Biden is preparing to undo the Mexico City policy just as soon as he gets a chance.
Perhaps part of the trouble is that, throughout his decades-long political career, Biden has faced little opposition from Catholic leaders for claiming that his personal opposition to abortion need not, and indeed should not, extend to embracing pro-life policy. He faced little opposition, too, when he buckled to progressive pressure and agreed to bring the fist of the Obama administration down on Catholic colleges and Catholic religious orders that failed to subsidize birth control.
On Inauguration Day, the media hailed Biden for attending mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., where he was permitted to receive communion. Yet when President Trump visited the John Paul II shrine elsewhere in D.C. last summer, Washington’s archbishop condemned the trip in no uncertain terms, calling it “baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles.”
It seems that only some violations of Catholic teaching — and only some politicians — deserve intense condemnation. Others earn themselves photo ops.
Elsewhere in the hierarchy, a similar lack of clarity abounds. A Catholic outlet reported Wednesday morning that, on the request of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops held back a statement critical of Biden’s policy stances on abortion and religious freedom. When the superb pastoral statement eventually became public anyway, a prominent U.S. cardinal called it “ill-considered,” taking issue with the manner in which it was crafted, while skirting the essential issues it raised with the incoming administration.
Americans deserve a far better response from President Biden on these questions than this effort to cloak his contradictions of Church teaching with a lazy hand-wave at his supposed Catholic street cred. American Catholics — especially those who supported him — must demand better from their brother in baptism.