Judging by the Record

A NOTE FROM OUR PUBLISHER: It is one thing to judge someone’s heart or motivation. It is another thing entirely to take them at their word and judge their very public actions and positions.

RNC Convention
RNC Convention (photo: Getty / Getty)

Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz addressed the Republican National Convention, offering his support to President Donald Trump’s reelection. Holtz called the president a strong advocate for the unborn and said that the Biden-Harris ticket is “the most radically pro-abortion campaign in history.”

But it was Holtz’s discussion of faith that made headlines. 

While addressing the glaring gap between Catholic Church teaching and Biden’s platform, Holtz said Biden’s position on abortion “abandons innocent lives” and called the former vice president “Catholic in name only.”

Holtz immediately faced criticism in some quarters from those who felt that the remark was a judgment of Biden’s heart and not his policies.

Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, distanced himself from Holtz in a statement, as did other Catholic leaders. At a recent Mass, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago also appeared to address the subject, saying: “There should never be a time and a moment in which we judge others and their faith journey, say that a person is not Christian enough or Catholic enough, or doesn’t measure up to what we think they should.”

Meanwhile, Bishops Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, and Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee, have recently taken positions more akin to Holtz’s.

It is one thing to judge someone’s heart or motivation. It is another thing entirely to take them at their word and judge their very public actions and positions.

Like Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, too, has shown himself unafraid to call out support for abortion as so objectively wrong that politicians supporting it should not receive Communion.

In the Aparecida document, whose text Pope Francis oversaw during his tenure as archbishop of Buenos Aires, we find this statement: “We must adhere to ‘Eucharistic coherence,’ that is, be conscious that they [legislators, heads of government and health professionals] cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act with words or deeds against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia and other crimes against life and family are encouraged.”

Whatever is in Biden’s heart notwithstanding, Holtz was right about Biden’s public actions and platform. Biden’s actions and positions on abortion are objectively not Catholic.

The former vice president is running the most radically pro-abortion campaign in U.S. history: Biden has offered his support to efforts to codify Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, even though he used to oppose this.

He has called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment — reversing his previous support of the policy — which would allow for the use of taxpayer dollars to fund elective abortion procedures. He has also said that abortion should be protected as “an essential health-care service” during the coronavirus pandemic.

Biden even selected a running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who has proposed using preclearance at a federal level — requiring the Department of Justice to sign off on state-level abortion restrictions — to block efforts to pass new pro-life laws.

Politicians ask us to take them at their word and judge them by their records. If we do that in this case, we find a candidate promoting positions on abortion that are objectively antithetical to the faith while at the same time highlighting his Catholic roots.

It is a deep shame that this baptized Catholic presidential nominee has chosen abortion policies that are a better reflection of the extreme voices in his party than the teachings of his Church — or for that matter, the well-documented viewpoint of most Americans.

The misunderstanding of abortion extends also to some of Biden’s most prominent Catholic supporters. Sister Simone Campbell of the Sisters of Social Service, who offered a prayer at the Democratic National Convention, recently told Catholic News Agency that the question of legal abortion is “above my pay grade.”

This was in stark contrast to Sister Dede Byrne of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, who delivered an address to the Republican National Convention in which she spoke of “the largest marginalized group in the world” — the unborn.

“As followers of Christ, we are called to stand up for life against the politically correct or fashionable of today,” Sister Dede said.

“We must fight against a legislative agenda that supports and even celebrates destroying life in the womb.”

I hope one day we will see that such a legislative agenda would never be supported by a candidate who calls himself Catholic. Let us pray for Joe Biden. Let us call him to conversion. But let us not give his public position on abortion a pass by saying we cannot judge him. 

God bless you!