It was hard to get much done on Friday due to the flurry of phone calls, emails, and texts concerning the USCCB statement about Thursday night’s vice presidential debate.
Everyone was asking the same thing, “Where is Biden’s name? It’s not there!”
In case you missed the debate, at the end the moderator asked each candidate, both Catholic, to say something “personal” about their faith and the abortion issue in particular. Inevitably, the topic of the HHS mandate came up, and Vice President Biden told a whopper of a lie — that the mandate will not force any Catholic to pay for contraception.
The USCCB statement quotes Biden verbatim but does not mention who the statement is intended to correct, Biden or Ryan. It begins, “Last night, the following statement was made….” Anyone reading this press release, unless they were familiar with last night’s debate, would be left in the dark regarding just “who” misrepresented the impact of the HHS mandate on religious institutions, a stark violation of religious liberty.
That the USCCB went to the trouble of correcting a seemingly anonymous debater defies common sense, but those of us who have been through several political seasons are used to surprises when it comes to the conference, chanceries, parishes, and a presidential campaign. We’ve already dealt with the problem we’ve seen in state conferences issuing alphabetical voter guides — they contradict what the bishops themselves wrote in the “New Introduction” to “Faithful Citizenship”.
Is there a good reason why the USCCB statement would leave Biden’s name out? There is certainly precedent for bishops’ publicly correcting Biden, both as a senator and as vice president. Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, wrote an article for Newsmax entitled Ryan, Biden and the Bishopslisting 15 bishops who have publicly corrected Biden when he has misrepresented the Catholic faith.
Yet, here Vice President Biden had an audience of 51 million people for his debate with Paul Ryan. Biden’s lie about the HHS mandate potentially has a huge impact on how Catholic voters view the Obama/Biden ticket and the record of their first term.
Biden’s appearance in 2008 on “Meet the Press” was seen by approximately 3 million people, and 15 bishops publicly corrected him. Forty-eight million more people saw and heard Biden deny the violation of religious liberty that the bishops themselves devoted two full weeks to in the summer with their “Fortnight for Freedom”. Yet, the USCCB cannot bring itself to utter his name.
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Perhaps there will be other bishops who will fill the void and speak his name aloud saying, “Vice President Biden did not tell the truth about the HHS mandate, and while I am at it, he also spoke incorrectly about the proper role of the Catholic faith in public life.”
But, there is an even stronger reason why the USCCB shirked its responsibility by leaving out Biden’s name. Biden is the Vice President of the United States. He is the second ranking member of the Obama administration, an administration that announced a policy violating the religious liberty of Catholic institutions, causing more than forty of those institutions, including a number of dioceses, to bring law suits against the government. (When Ryan asked Biden about those law suits he was promptly interrupted by moderator Martha Raddatz.)
Biden, as vice president, should have to face the consequences of lying about the policies of his own administration, rather than being protected by the very institution — the Church — he has conspired to hurt.