The Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joseph Biden’s erroneous comments about Church teaching on abortion have prompted corrections from many U.S. bishops. Now Biden’s own bishop has responded by saying the sanctity of life is ‘crucial’ for a just society, with the Bishop of Fargo adding that “Our precious unborn children need us to speak for them.”
Biden, a Delaware U.S. Senator, had appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press last Sunday. There, he claimed that the point at which life begins is a matter of faith and stated that he cannot “impose” his beliefs about human life upon others.
W. Francis Malooly, the new Bishop of Wilmington, issued a statement on Wednesday duplicating the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) statement authored by Cardinal Justin Rigali and Bishop William E. Lori.
The two bishops in a Tuesday statement emphasized that the duty to protect the unborn is not a “private” or “specifically religious” issue. They argued that embryology textbooks teach that life begins at conception and called the duty to protect the unborn a “demand of justice.”
Bishop Malooly, after reproducing the two bishops’ statement, said:
“It is my intention to build a supportive and trusting friendship with Senator Biden and as many public officials as I can. I will do my best, with your prayers, to assist him and all public officials as well as all citizens in our Diocese and beyond to understand how crucial the sanctity of human life is to a just society in the State of Delaware, the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and our entire nation.”
Bishop Samuel Aquila of the Diocese of Fargo also addressed Sen. Biden’s remarks in a Wednesday letter to the priests of his diocese.
“Senator Biden, and all others who mistakenly claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion confuse matters more by implying that the time of when life begins is a matter of faith, and not that of science, the natural law, or truth,” Bishop Aquila wrote. “Any person who has studied biology, whether they are a Catholic, Jew, Muslim, Christian, agnostic or atheist, knows that human life begins at the moment of conception.”
Catholic teaching on abortion, Bishop Aquila noted, is explained at length in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae.
“As there is confusion on the matter of abortion in the minds of some Catholics,” the bishop continued, “we have the responsibility to clearly articulate the truths of natural reason and the teaching of the Church and help all of our faithful understand the teaching. We cannot be silent in the face of such a holocaust of innocent human life. Our precious unborn children need us to speak for them.”
The U.S. Bishops’ Conference has also responded by adding a discussion of certain Catholics’ political support for abortion to the agenda of the bishop’s annual assembly in Baltimore this November, saying they are doing so “in light of recent comments by Catholic politicians misrepresenting Catholic teaching.”
A USCCB press release added: “We confirm the Catholic Church's constant teaching about the sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception and the intrinsic evil of abortion. As the teachers of the faith, we also point out the connectedness between the evil of abortion and political support for abortion.”