The selection of Sen. Joseph Biden as Barack Obama’s running mate is drawing a chorus of disapproval from Catholic intellectual and pro-life leaders because of Biden’s longstanding support for abortion. Most recently, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver has said that Biden should refrain from Communion.
Over the weekend, CNA spoke with several prominent Catholics regarding Biden’s nomination for the Democratic vice-presidential slot. The well-known Catholic intellectual and author George Weigel explained to CNA that Obama’s choice was expected. “Barack Obama is a pro-abortion radical, so there's nothing surprising about his choosing a pro-abortion running mate,” said Weigel.
According to Weigel, an Obama-Biden ticket is “deeply disturbing” because “neither Senator Obama nor Senator Biden seems to have taken Catholic arguments about the first principles of justice seriously.”
“The Church's pro-life position is not ‘sectarian;’ it can be engaged by anyone willing to work through a serious philosophical argument,” Weigel asserted. “Neither Obama nor Biden seems willing to do that -- which casts a rather large shadow over their claims to be the ticket of thoughtfulness and intellectual seriousness.”
Weigel predicts that the choice of Biden will present the public with the sight of "‘Catholics for Obama’ tying themselves into even tighter theological pretzels, as they try to justify a vote for what seems likely to be the most radically pro-abortion ticket in American history.”
Deal Hudson, a Catholic political analyst, commented to CNA that the selection of Sen. Biden by Obama “has underscored his abortion extremism.” On the other hand, the tapping of the senator from Delaware may have some positive implications for Obama as well, noted Hudson, who called him “an affable, veteran politician who is unlikely to repeat the 2004 mistakes of Sen. John Kerry by overselling his ‘Catholic’ credentials.”
Fr. Frank Pavone, the head of Priests for Life, took a broader view of Barack Obama’s vice presidential selection, calling it “a wake-up call to the Church (clergy and laity alike).”
Among the steps that the Church needs to take, said Fr. Pavone, are: to “improve the way we hand on the Faith, be willing to exercise the spiritual work of mercy of admonishing the sinner, and to keep politically active so that such people are voted out of office.”
Politicians, Fr. Pavone underscored, are engaged in publicly expressing “their support for keeping abortion legal” while at the same time consistently refusing to admit what abortion is. He added, “if a politician cannot respect the life of a little baby, how is he supposed to respect yours and mine?”
Austin Ruse, the head of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute, reacted to the news of Sen. Biden’s selection by saying, “The Democrats are slapping faithful Catholics right in the face. First, they will nominate the most pro-abortion candidate in history. Then they refuse to invite the beloved Archbishop of Denver even to offer a prayer at their convention. And now they nominate a pro-abortion Catholic as vice-president. Only self-hating Catholics could vote for this ticket.”
The president of the national Catholic advocacy group Fidelis, Brian Burch, interpreted the Biden pick as having “re-opened a wound among American Catholics.” He added that, “the American bishops have made clear that Catholic political leaders must defend the dignity of every human person, including the unborn. Sadly, Joe Biden's tenure in the United States Senate has been marked by steadfast support for legal abortion."
Burch also highlighted the fact that, “Biden's own bishop, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del., has said that the issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life are the ‘great civil rights issues of this generation’.”
Bishop Saltarelli denounced the notion that politicians can 'personally oppose' abortion, but refuse to pass laws protecting the unborn. In fact, Bishop Saltarelli has made clear that pro-abortion Catholic politicians should refrain from receiving the Eucharist.
On Monday morning in Denver, where the Democratic National Convention is underway, Archbishop Charles Chaput told the Associated Press that because of support for abortion, Biden should refrain from taking Communion.
During his tenure in the senate, Joe Biden has voted numerous times in support of abortion and has characterized himself as a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade.
Biden also revealed at a Democratic presidential primary debate in Las Vegas last November that his criteria for selecting nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court would include a pro-Roe test.
“I would not appoint anyone who did not understand that Section 5 of the 14th Amendment and the Liberty Clause of the 14th Amendment provided a right to privacy,” Biden said. “That's the question I'd ask them. If that is answered correctly, that that is the case, then it answers the question, which means they would support Roe v. Wade."