Biden, Pelosi, Abortion and the ‘Devout Catholic’ Dodge

USCCB president Archbishop José Gomez’s statement that abortion is “not only a private matter” stands in contrast to the argument of President Biden and other pro-abortion Catholic politicians that they are “personally pro-life” but cannot make the decision for others.

President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., before the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20.
President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden attend Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., before the presidential inauguration on Jan. 20. (photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

The issue of President Joe Biden’s avowed Catholicism in contrast with his staunch support of abortion was highlighted on day one of his administration. The administration adopted the line of defense of insisting that Biden was a “devout Catholic” in response to a question about abortion, a tactic also employed by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., another baptized Catholic who is pro-abortion. 

EWTN’s Owen Jensen asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki about two major “concerns for pro-life Americans” — namely the Hyde Amendment, which bars tax dollars from funding abortions, and the Mexico City Policy, which prevents tax dollars from funding abortions overseas. President Biden has opposed both these policies and promised to take steps to reverse them, so Jensen asked “what is President Biden planning on doing on those two items right now?”

“I think we’ll have more to say on the Mexico City Policy in the coming days,” Psaki replied, “but I will just take the opportunity to remind all of you that he is a devout Catholic and somebody who attends church regularly. He started his day attending church with his family this morning, but I don’t have anything more for you on that.” (The next day, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to the president, confirmed to the World Health Organization that Biden “will revoke the Mexico City Policy in the coming days.”)

Psaki’s invocation of President Biden’s Catholic faith in response to a question about abortion was strange given that Jensen did not even reference Biden’s faith in his question — and also given that the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that “since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” 

 

‘Not Only a Private Matter’

Recently, and amid some internal controversy, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), marked President Biden’s inauguration by releasing a statement saying that “our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender.” 

He emphasized that “the continued injustice of abortion remains the ‘preeminent priority.’ Preeminent does not mean ‘only.’ We have deep concerns about many threats to human life and dignity in our society. But as Pope Francis teaches, we cannot stay silent when nearly a million unborn lives are being cast aside in our country year after year through abortion. Abortion is a direct attack on life that also wounds the woman and undermines the family. It is not only a private matter, it raises troubling and fundamental questions of fraternity, solidarity, and inclusion in the human community. It is also a matter of social justice. We cannot ignore the reality that abortion rates are much higher among the poor and minorities, and that the procedure is regularly used to eliminate children who would be born with disabilities.” 

“Rather than impose further expansions of abortion and contraception, as he has promised, I am hopeful that the new President and his administration will work with the Church and others of good will,” the statement added.

Archbishop Gomez’s statement that abortion is “not only a private matter” and is “a direct attack on human life,” stands in contrast to the argument of pro-abortion Catholic politicians that they are personally pro-life but cannot make the decision for others. 

In 2015, Biden told America magazine that he accepted “on faith” that human life begins at conception but that he was unwilling to impose that view on others. “I’m prepared to accept that at the moment of conception there’s human life and being,” he said at the time, “but I’m not prepared to say that to other God-fearing, non-God-fearing people that have a different view.”

Another baptized Catholic, former presidential candidate John Kerry, took a similar stance, saying in the second 2004 presidential debate that “I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I’m a Catholic — raised a Catholic. I was an altar boy. Religion has been a huge part of my life, helped lead me through a war, leads me today. But I can’t take what is an article of faith for me and legislate it for someone who doesn’t share that article of faith, whether they be agnostic, atheist, Jew, Protestant, whatever. I can’t do that.”

 

Pelosi’s ‘Sacred Ground’

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has taken this stance a step further, and frequently invokes her faith in response to questions about abortion in a similar fashion to Psaki’s comment this week. In January 2015, when asked if an unborn child 20 weeks into a pregnancy was a human being, she replied that “as a mother of five in six years, I have great standing on this issue, a great understanding of it, more than my colleagues. In fact, one day many years ago — maybe even before you were born — when I was a new Member of Congress, as a Catholic and mom of five, opposing some of the initiatives similar to — in the same vein of what we have today, one of the Republican Members got up and said: Nancy Pelosi thinks she knows more about having babies than the Pope. Yeah. That would be true. So in any event, this is up to women, their conscience, their God, their doctors, their health, their faith and survival. And that is about what the decision should be.” 

When asked in October 2015, “Is an unborn baby with a human heart and a human liver a human being?” she replied, “I am a devout, practicing Catholic, a mother of five children. When my baby was born, my fifth child, my oldest child was six years old. I think I know more about this subject than you, with all due respect.”

Pelosi has gone even further in the past in attempting to identify her Catholic faith with her beliefs on abortion. In 2013 when asked about late-term abortion she said, “As a practicing and respectful Catholic, this is sacred ground to me when we talk about this. I don’t think it should have anything to do with politics.”

More recently, in a Jan. 18 podcast with former senator and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Pelosi said that the fact that pro-life voters supported former President Donald Trump was an issue that “gives me great grief as a Catholic,” claiming that these voters “were willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.”

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of Pelosi’s home archdiocese of San Francisco replied to this in a statement Thursday, saying, “Nancy Pelosi does not speak for the Catholic Church. She speaks as a high-level important government leader, and as a private citizen. And on the question of the equal dignity of human life in the womb, she also speaks in direct contradiction to a fundamental human right that Catholic teaching has consistently championed for 2,000 years.” 

“There are many issues of very grave moral consequence that Catholics must weigh in good conscience when they vote,” he said. “But one thing is clear: No Catholic in good conscience can favor abortion. ‘Right to choose’ is a smokescreen for perpetuating an entire industry that profits from one of the most heinous evils imaginable. Our land is soaked with the blood of the innocent, and it must stop.”

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