An Episcopal priest criticized U.S. Catholic bishops Monday for not being more enthusiastic when they congratulated Joe Biden for his supposed victory over President Donald Trump.
In a column at the Los Angeles Times, the Rev. Randall Balmer said the bishops put too much emphasis on Biden’s support for abortion, Breitbart reports.
Balmer, who teaches at Dartmouth College, praised Biden as a “devout” Catholic who deserves praise – even though his positions on human life, family and religious freedom contradict the faith to which Biden claims to belong.
“The election of the second Roman Catholic as president of the United States should be the occasion of great celebration among his coreligionists,” he wrote. “… To pretend that there is anything approaching moral equivalency between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, let alone to decide the matter in Trump’s favor, represents an appalling failure to exercise ethical judgment.”
Los Angeles Archbishop José Gomez, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, did congratulate Biden on his supposed victory earlier this month. However, he also said Biden’s pro-abortion position creates a “difficult and complex situation” for Catholic leaders.
“When politicians who profess the Catholic faith support [abortion], there are additional problems,” the archbishop said. “Among other things, it creates confusion among the faithful about what the Catholic Church actually teaches on these questions.”
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But Balmer, who is Episcopalian, argued that the bishops should not have brought up the abortion issue at all. He portrayed Biden a “devout” Catholic, “public servant and family man” who will be a strong, moral leader.
Although the bishops and many Americans may disagree with his stand, Biden’s position on abortion rights is hardly unprincipled. It rests on constitutional values and the law of the land, on the 1st Amendment and the separation of church and state, on the belief that the choice to terminate a pregnancy should be determined by a woman and not by the state.
Perhaps we should shrug off the prospect of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy trying to bend Joe Biden to an absolutist antiabortion rights stance — a position, according to the Pew Research Center, not shared by a majority of Catholics or a majority of Americans. I worry that the move to censure Biden represents an attempt to reassert the “great medieval synthesis,” when the Vatican sought to elevate its claims of precedence over all other temporal authorities.
Balmer is wrong. Biden’s position on abortion absolutely is immoral and unprincipled, and it is vastly out of touch both with Americans and the Catholic Church. No other issue involves the direct, intentional destruction of so many human lives. Since 1973, 62 million unborn babies have been aborted in the U.S.
The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a grave moral evil, and many Americans believe it is, too. Yet, Biden has openly said that he supports abortions “under any circumstances” and he wants to force taxpayers to pay for them. Polls consistently show that most Americans oppose both of these proposals.
A 2016 Harvard/Politico poll found just 36 percent of likely voters support using federal tax dollars to cover abortions, while 58 percent oppose it. A July Gallup found 55 percent of Americans take a pro-life position on abortion wanting all (21%) or almost all 39% abortions made illegal.
Biden’s plan would expand abortions. He said he plans to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law and appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who will support abortion on demand. He also said he would fight to end the Hyde Amendment and force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions – which could lead to 60,000 more unborn babies’ deaths to abortion each year.
In April, Biden went so far as to call the killing of unborn babies an “essential medical service” during the coronavirus pandemic. His health care plan would expand abortions as well by forcing insurance companies to cover abortions as “essential” health care under Obamacare.
He also promised to undo all of Trump’s progress for life, including restoring funding to the billion-dollar abortion chain Planned Parenthood.
On religious freedom, Biden’s position also is deeply troubling. Biden has endorsed anti-religious freedom policies that would force nuns, religious charities and hospitals to violate their deeply-held beliefs by funding the killing of unborn babies in abortions and potentially even by helping to facilitate their deaths.
Among them, he and his vice presidential running mate Kamala Harris oppose a religious exemption from the Obamacare contraception mandate for the Little Sisters of the Poor, a nuns’ charity that serves the poor and elderly. The Supreme Court recently granted the Little Sisters relief from the Obama-era mandate, which would have forced them to fund contraception, including forms that may cause abortions,in their employee health plans.