Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, on Sunday asserted that President Joe Biden “picks and chooses” elements of the Catholic faith to follow, that he is “sincere” in his faith but he refuses to engage with some of the “challenging” aspects of it. 

The cardinal made the remarks on the CBS news program “Face the Nation” on Easter Sunday. He appeared on the panel program with Episcopal bishop of Washington Mariann Budde.

Asked by host Ed O’Keefe about Biden’s “regular attendance [at Mass]” and his “adherence to the faith,” Gregory acknowledged that Biden — only the second Catholic president in U.S. history — is “very sincere about his faith.” 

“But like a number of Catholics, he picks and chooses dimensions of the faith to highlight while ignoring or even contradicting other parts,” the cardinal said. 

“There is a phrase that we have used in the past, a ‘cafeteria Catholic,’ [in which] you choose that which is attractive and dismiss that which is challenging,” Gregory said. 

“I would say there are things, especially in terms of the life issues, there are things that he chooses to ignore,” the prelate continued. 

“The issues of life begin at the very beginning. And they conclude at natural death,” he argued. “And you can’t pick and choose. You’re either one who respects life in all of its dimensions, or you have to step aside and say, ‘I’m not pro-life.’”

Biden in his 2024 State of the Union address vowed to implement a Roe v. Wade-style national abortion rule if given the chance in a second term. 

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“If you, the American people, send me a Congress that supports the right to choose, I promise you I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again,” Biden said. 

Gregory said he would “not be at all surprised” to learn that Pope Francis has challenged Biden on the president’s embrace of pro-abortion ideology. “One of the things that I think Pope Francis does, and does extraordinarily well, is that he engages people,” the cardinal said. 

“He encounters people, he doesn’t attack them. But he encounters them. And he invites them to respond to their better angels.”

Budde disputed Gregory’s remarks, arguing that it’s “possible to be a practitioner of the faith as a public leader and not require everyone that you lead in your country to be guided by all of the precepts of your faith.”

“I love the spectrum of life,” Budde claimed during the interview. “I think you can be an adherent of the spectrum of life and still respect a woman’s right to choose her reproductive health, including when to have an abortion in the early stages of pregnancy.”