Tom McFeely is the National Catholic Register’s News Editor. He lives in British Columbia.
Since being named as Barack Obama’s running mate in August, Sen. Joe Biden has earned an unusual — and unenviable — distinction for a Catholic politician.
In early September, the Delaware Democrat was publicly corrected by the U.S. bishops for comprehensively misrepresenting Church teaching on abortion during an appearance on Meet the Press.
Now, Biden’s own bishop has rebuked him publicly for similar claims he made about abortion in an interview published Oct. 19 by the Wilmington News Journal.
In the interview, which was conducted in 2007, Biden claimed Church teachings on abortion are not a settled matter and alleged that the Church “has wrestled with this for 2,000 years” without arriving at a definitive position.
In a letter published Oct. 26 by the News Journal, Bishop Francis Malooley of Wilmington, Delaware, responded to Biden’s theological argumentation.
“This is simply incorrect,” Bishop Malooley said. “The teaching of the Church is clear and not open to debate. Abortion is a grave sin because it is the wrongful taking of an innocent human life. The Church received the tradition opposing abortion from Judaism. In the Greco-Roman world, early Christians were identifiable by their rejection of the common practices of abortion and infanticide.”
After providing further clarification about how Biden had erred in his comments regarding the Church’s consistent teaching against abortion, Bishop Malooley concluded:
“This Sunday, all the parishes in the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington will pray the Litany of St. Thomas More, martyr and patron saint of statesmen, politicians and lawyers. We will ask St. Thomas More to intercede so all statesmen and politicians may be courageous and effective in their defense and promotion of the sanctity of human life. We hope Sen. Biden will carefully listen to the Church’s 2,000 years of testimony on abortion and that he will join in the defense and promotion of the sanctity of life.”
— Tom McFeely