Becerra’s Bad Witness

A NOTE FROM OUR PUBLISHER: Xavier Becerra’s unqualified support for abortion and transgender medical services, and his obvious intention to prioritize these agendas if confirmed, is especially unnerving in light of his willingness to cast himself publicly as a Catholic politician.

Xavier Becerra, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, is seen at the start of a break at his Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing on February 24, 2021 at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.
Xavier Becerra, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services, is seen at the start of a break at his Senate Finance Committee nomination hearing on February 24, 2021 at Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (photo: Greg Nash / AFP/Getty)

Last month’s U.S. Senate confirmation hearings for President Joe Biden’s pick for secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Xavier Becerra, put on full display the California attorney general’s public record on matters related to the sanctity of unborn human life and sexuality. 

Becerra, like Biden, is a baptized Catholic. Like the president, he unabashedly and problematically breaks with foundational Church teaching on abortion, same-sex “marriage” and transgenderism. The nomination process left no question that he would methodically advance the White House’s radical progressive agenda at the HHS department, cementing abortion, contraception, sterilizations and transgender surgeries in the name of protecting “health-care rights.”

Some prominent Catholics publicly celebrated Becerra’s Catholic faith as impetus for his policy positions. Such praise is plainly political, disingenuous and completely at odds with Catholicism. 

This political moment provides a pointed reminder about how crucial it is that we actively join with our bishops and others in pushing back every time a prominent Catholic politician like Becerra provides such an unfaithful public witness.

Grilled by Republican senators about his unqualified support for legal abortion, Becerra declined to support even a single restriction on access to the murderous procedure. Think about that: President Biden’s nominee can’t even bring himself to oppose the horror of late-term abortion, whereby babies who are fully viable are pulled alive part way out of the womb in order that abortionists can kill them by dismemberment.

Then there is his proven willingness to target the Little Sisters of the Poor, seeking to deprive them of the protections they won during the last administration from being forced to provide contraception and sterilization in their employee health plans. Becerra, as HHS secretary, would be the senior official in charge of mobilizing the Biden administration against the Little Sisters and other employers who refuse on grounds of conscience to include in the medical plans of their employees what their deeply held beliefs hold to be immoral.

On the matter of his support for “transgender rights,” prior to his current post as California’s attorney general, U.S. Rep. Becerra was one of the original co-sponsors of the Equality Act, which, among other things, would mandate that medical institutions in the United States provide “gender transition” treatments to persons whose “gender identity” is opposite to their immutable male or female biological identity. This legislation — which was passed by the House in late February and is part of Biden’s first-100-days agenda — specifies that its destructive provisions override the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. That means that if passed by the Senate and signed into law by the president, the Equality Act will strip away the religious liberty and the conscience rights of our Catholic medical institutions, with respect to providing both access to abortion services and to so-called “medical treatments” to facilitate “gender transition.” 

Xavier Becerra’s unqualified support for abortion and transgender medical services, and his obvious intention to prioritize these agendas if confirmed, is especially unnerving in light of his willingness to cast himself publicly as a Catholic politician. During the 2020 election campaign he served as a prominent member of the “Catholics for Biden” group that formed to lobby the faithful to vote for the Democratic nominee. 

As a highly intelligent and well-informed person, Becerra is perfectly aware that his own Church unequivocally condemns these things as moral monstrosities.

Equally disconcerting were the excuses proffered for Becerra’s lack of fidelity by other prominent Catholics who align politically with the Democratic Party. 

In an editorial for NBC News, Sister Carol Keehan, the influential former president of the Catholic Health Association who broke with the U.S. bishops during the Obama administration over the inclusion of coverage of abortion and contraception in the Affordable Care Act, dismissed the complaints that Becerra has broken with his Catholic faith with respect to key health issues as “spurious.” Sister Carol instead cited Becerra’s “strong faith” that, she said, includes his recognition “of the dignity of all humans who are created in the image of God.” 

Apparently, in the judgment of Sister Carol, it’s permissible to exclude unborn babies from the accounting of human beings who are created in God’s image.

Sister Simone Campbell, the leader of the hyper-politicized Nuns on the Bus organization that continuously campaigns in support of the entire gamut of progressive political agendas, was similarly supportive of Becerra. “Narrow-minded critics of Xavier Becerra have overlooked his lifelong commitment to expanding access to health care, especially for underserved communities,” she tweeted. Of course, it’s nothing new when Sister Simone throws Church teachings under her bus as she advocates on behalf of the Democratic Party; last year, for example, when asked by Catholic News Agency if she opposes legal abortion, she responded that the abortion issue is “above my pay grade.”

But still, it’s always damaging when it happens. That’s because such remarks by “progressive” Catholics, especially religious sisters, cause considerable scandal, courtesy of the media megaphone extended to them by America’s secular news agencies. And right now, this problem is uniquely amplified by the reality that the first among dissenting politicians is none other than President Biden himself. 

There remains some doubt that Becerra will actually be confirmed by the Senate, although it’s regarded as likely. Either way, it’s necessary to point out how opposed he is to the teachings of his faith in key moral areas, in the same way we are required to do so every time the president breaks with Church teachings regarding sexuality and the sanctity of human life. 

Going forward, the most immediate political threat to our religious liberty is the upcoming push by the Democratic Party for the Senate to pass the Equality Act. Because Republican senators appear to be almost unanimously opposed to its passage, there is a strong chance it won’t progress. 

As faithful Catholics, it’s key that we push back against those people who would on the one hand claim to be Catholic yet on the other advocate for destructive policies that are antithetical to Catholic teaching. 

And, above all, we need to pray fervently that these policies will not come to pass.

God bless you!

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