Carl A. Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, has published an open letter to Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. Joseph Biden in several major newspapers, chastising his support for abortion and correcting his erroneous claims about historical Catholic teaching on abortion.
Warning that Biden’s public remarks could confuse Catholic women in crisis pregnancies about the morality of abortion, Anderson’s letter also invites Biden to meet with him to discuss the issue in person.
The open letter to Biden, a U.S. Senator from Delaware, was published in USA Today, the Washington Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the Delaware News Journal on September 19. Anderson says he writes the letter “on behalf of 1.28 million members of the Knights of Columbus and their families in the United States.”
Anderson begins his letter to Biden by saying he writes as “a fellow Catholic layman.” Commenting that the bishops who have publicly corrected Biden’s remarks on historical Catholic teaching on abortion are “far from alone,” Anderson tells Biden his statements “carry considerable weight” because of Sen. Barack Obama’s emphasis of Biden’s Catholic identity.
“You now have a unique responsibility when you make public statements about Catholic teaching,” Anderson writes.
Echoing many Catholic bishops’ responses to Biden’s remarks, Anderson says modern medical science “leaves no doubt” about when life begins.
“It is not a matter of personal religious belief, but of science,” he writes.
Anderson’s letter addresses Biden’s appeal to St. Thomas Aquinas, which the senator used to justify his pro-abortion rights views. Anderson says that the learned saint had “only a medieval understanding of biology” and questions whether any other appeal to medieval biology would be made to justify modern law and policy.
Regardless of St. Thomas’ understanding of biology, Anderson continues, the saint’s view is “in any case entirely consistent with the long history of Catholic Church teaching in this area, holding that abortion is a grave sin to be avoided at any time during pregnancy.”
The sinfulness of abortion, according to Anderson, is taught in the early Christian work of the Didache, as well as the works of Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine and Aquinas.
Anderson cites the Second Vatican Council’s description of abortion as “an unspeakable crime” and its teaching that human life must be protected from the “moment of conception.”
Biden’s remarks have life or death consequences, Anderson explains:
“Statements that suggest that our Church has anything less than a consistent teaching on abortion are not merely incorrect; they may lead Catholic women facing crisis pregnancies to misunderstand the moral gravity of an abortion decision.”
While noting the senator’s opposition to partial birth abortions, Anderson tells Biden “your unconditional support for [Roe v. Wade] is a de facto endorsement of permitting all other late term abortions, and thus calls into question your appeal to Aquinas.”
Comparing the denial of the rights of unborn children to the denial of the rights of
African Americans before the U.S. Civil War, Anderson writes:
“Today, children of all races who are fully viable and only minutes from being born are also denied recognition as ‘persons’ because of the Roe v. Wade regime that you so strongly support.”
Anderson exhorts Biden to change his political stand, saying: “You have a choice: you can listen to your conscience and work to secure the rights of the unborn to share in the fruits of our hard-won liberty, or you can choose to turn your back on them.”
Closing his letter with an invitation, Anderson writes: “I would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues personally with you in greater detail during the weeks between now and November 4.”