Thursday, 28 August 2008

Joe Biden and Communion

BY The Editors NCR
WENN Photo
The good news: Barack Obama’s vice presidential candidate will be Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, a Catholic who says he accepts the Church’s teaching on abortion and struggles with his conscience over abortion votes. But the bad news renders that good news bad: Biden’s conscience struggle tends to end with him doing the bidding of the abortion industry.
A great deal has been made of the fact that Biden once voted to ban partial-birth abortion. That’s the abortion procedure in which a full-term child is killed while exiting the birth canal. We’re glad he voted the right way, but forgive us if we don’t applaud.
We're not surprised Biden wanted partial-birth abortion to be illegal five years ago. We’re astonished Obama wants it legal now.
And don’t let the 2003 rating of NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) Pro-Choice America fool you. Yes, the year he voted to ban partial-birth abortion, he pleased NARAL only a third of the time. But here is Biden’s NARAL record for every year since: 2004, 100%; 2005, 100%; 2006, 100%; 2007, 75%.
Asked if he believes life starts at conception, Obama refused to answer. But Biden said: “I am prepared to accept my Church’s view. ... I have to accept that on faith.”
We have some follow-up questions. If he believes life begins at conception, why did Biden vote against making unborn children eligible for “S-CHIP” state health care for kids? If you are for health care and for the “little guy,” why refuse care to the littlest among us?
Why did Biden vote that unborn victims in federal crimes don’t count? In the case of a pregnant victim in the Oklahoma City bombing of a federal building, state police would hold Timothy McVeigh responsible for a father’s two losses: his wife and his unborn children. Biden, who knows better, would only hold him responsible for one.
Why did Biden vote to allow out-of-state abortion businesses to prey on minors from other states? Why did he even vote that those out-of-state abortion sites need not inform parents when they sell an abortion to their daughters? Together, these votes were a gift to abortion moneymakers and to men who want an easy way to “take care of the problem” when they impregnate underage girls.
Biden says he is against federal funding for abortions. Then why did he vote to allow abortions on military bases?
It should be pointed out that both Joe Biden and Sen. John McCain, the presumptive GOP nominee, have voted to federally fund embryonic stem-cell research. To be clear: They would transfer money from taxpayers’ paychecks into the coffers of embryo-killing research firms.
Truth be told, while Biden has said consoling things about abortion, we can only go by what he has done. His votes serve the bottom line of killer industries, not the mothers and their children who pay the ultimate price for those profits.
That’s such a scandal that the Church says pro-abortion Catholic politicians shouldn’t receive Communion. In 2004, Biden’s own Bishop, Michael Saltarelli, wrote a column embracing the U.S. bishops’ “Statement on Catholics in Political Life.” In it, he asked politicians who support abortion laws not to present themselves for Communion.
“The promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious matter,” he wrote. “I ask Catholics in this position to have the integrity to respect the Eucharist, Catholic teaching and the Catholic faithful.”
Bishop Saltarelli’s approach echoes the one recommended in 2004 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Before he became Pope Benedict XVI, he wrote to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick:
“Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.”
Biden was also at odds with Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger on the question of the Iraq war. Like McCain (who isn’t a Catholic) he voted for it. But war questions are different.
“If a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive holy Communion,” wrote Cardinal Ratzinger. “While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”
It would be better for Joe Biden if he weren’t Catholic and didn’t know better. But he is and he does.
In the days of slavery, there were many pro-slavery Catholics. Despite the constant and firm papal teaching against slavery, they darken the Church’s reputation. In missionary days there were abusive conquistadors. Despite the many good works of the missions, the abuse is often used to sum up the Church’s approach.
A majority of Americans have already turned against the slaughter of abortion. A century from now, the Church’s opponents will be making a new accusation: They will blame the Church for abortion. Unfortunately, they will have a point. They will name the prominent Catholics in our day — especially candidates on the last two presidential tickets — and judge the Church not by Church teaching, but by the actions of Catholics.
We have all seen ultrasound images. We all know women who were under severe pressure to abort children, then in severe pain once they did. Some Catholics have made a deal with the dark side — and have become agents of the destruction and despair that follow in abortion’s wake. But that’s not the story of our Church.
The rest of us need to do all we can to make certain the Church’s real story is told. In letters to their campaigns, in letters to editors, in town hall meetings and above all with our votes, we need to say: Enough is enough. We are a Church of life, not death. That is the legacy we want to leave.