Catholic bishops across the nation have rebuked Senator Joe Biden for claiming, during a September 7 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press, that his support for abortion is in keeping with his Catholic faith.
To date at least 14 bishops have responded to Biden's erroneous statement about Catholic teaching and abortion.
Responding to a question from Meet the Press Moderator Tom Brokaw, Biden stated that he agreed with the Catholic Church that life begins at conception. He then continued, "I'm prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society."
Biden also later appeared to contradict himself, saying throughout Church history there has been "debate" on when life begins, implying that life may not begin at conception after all.
However, as many bishops have pointed out already - especially in light of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's similar misstatement of Church teaching on the same television show several weeks prior - paragraph 2270-71 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church explicitly states that the Church has always taught that life must be respected from conception and that abortion at any stage is a grave evil. Furthermore, the Church has also repeatedly said that the state must protect life from conception to natural death in its laws.
Responding to Biden's statement that it would not be right to "impose" his views about when life begins on others, Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa said, "It is plainly false to assert that the answer to the question of when human life begins is limited to the realm of personal and private faith and that therefore there is no basis for preferring one position over another."
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver also addressed this remark. "Resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion," he said. "And the senator knows very well as a lawmaker that all law involves the imposition of some people's convictions on everyone else. That is the nature of the law. American Catholics have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their 'pro-choice' beliefs on American society without any remorse for decades."
For more commentary from the bishops see: http://www.americanpapist.com/2008/09/updated-9-10-bishops-h...
Here is American Papist's updated list of bishops who have responded to Sen. Joe Biden (in somewhat chronological order):
1. Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton
2. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, CO
3. Bishop James Conley, his auxiliary
4. Bishop Robeert Morlino of Madison
5. Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC
6. Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, OK
7. Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, PA
8. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, CT
9. Bishop Fran Malooly of Wilmington, DL
10. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo, ND
11. Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin, TX
12. Bishop R. Walker Nickless of Sioux City, IA
13. Bishop Paul Coakley of Salina, KS
14. Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, MA
Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput and Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley of Denver have reacted to Senator Joseph Biden's remarks on NBC's Meet The Press, criticizing him for confusing the differences between faith and natural law and for flawed moral reasoning.
In a Sunday interview on Meet the Press, Senator Biden said that he is "prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception" but would not impose that faith on anyone through law. He claimed that to do so would be "inappropriate in a pluralistic society."
After watching Biden's appearance on Meet the Press, Bishop Morlino at the last minute set aside his prepared homily on Sunday and instead addressed the Senator and Speaker Nancy Pelosi's fallacious remarks about Church teaching on abortion.
Senator Biden, noted the Bishop, doesn't understand the difference between "religious faith and natural law."
"Any human being, regardless of his faith, his religious practice or having no faith, any human being can reason to the fact that human life from conception unto natural death is sacred," Bishop Morlino argued. "Biology, not faith, not philosophy, not any kind of theology - Biology tells us, science [says], that at the moment of conception there exists a unique individual of the human species."
"It's not a matter of what I might believe. What my faith might teach me," he said. "Sen. Biden has an obligation to know that. And he doesn't know it."
Bishop Morlino then criticized politicians for confusing the Catholic faithful by making false, inaccurate or misleading public statements.
"They're supposed to believe in separation of church and state. They're violating the separation of church and state by confusing people about what I have an obligation to teach," he charged.
"Prominent Catholics should not be violating the separation of church and state" by "teaching the wrong thing", but Pelosi and Biden, in their lack of knowledge and understanding, were "doing precisely that," the Bishop said.
"They themselves were confused after the Council and I don't blame them for that. Bishops allowed it, theologians did it, some priests did it, and in Canada even some bishops did it."
Bishop Morlino concluded by encouraging his listeners to make sure they themselves really understood what the Catholic faith teaches, through the Pope and the bishops, and to offer correction to those who were confused or in error "with love," because otherwise "we will be lost too."
Archbishop of Denver Charles J. Chaput and Denver's auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley issued a letter to the faithful yesterday, titled "Public Servants and Moral Reasoning: A notice to the Catholic community in northern Colorado", addressing Senator Biden's comments.
"When Catholics serve on the national stage, their actions and words impact the faith of Catholics around the country. As a result, they open themselves to legitimate scrutiny by local Catholics and local bishops on matters of Catholic belief," the letter begins.
Referring to Senator Biden's statement that when life begins is a "personal and private issue," the bishops stated that "in reality, modern biology knows exactly when human life begins: at the moment of conception. Religion has nothing to do with it."
"Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always, grievously wrong," the Bishops wrote.
"If, as Senator Biden said, 'I'm prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception,' then he is not merely wrong about the science of new life; he also fails to defend the innocent life he already knows is there."
The Bishops' letter mentions Biden's statement to Tom Brokaw on Meet The Press that he has opposed taxpayer funding for abortions: "I don't support public, public funding. I don't, because that flips the burden. That's then telling me I have to accept a different view," he said in the interview.
A look at his voting record however reveals the opposite.
Earlier this year Biden voted against an amendment sponsored by Sen. David Vitter that would permanently prevent abortion funding with federal Indian Health Service (IHS) funds at Indian health care service facilities. (See Planned Parenthood Targets Native Americans with Abortion: http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2008/jun/08060903.html).
Biden voted against the Mexico City Policy, an initiative to prohibit taxpayer funding of groups that promote or perform abortions overseas, in April 2005.
In 2003, Biden voted to repeal the law that prohibits performance of abortions of military base hospitals, which are taxpayer funded.
The Bishops' letter also pointed out Biden's "strong support for the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and the false 'right' to abortion it enshrines," and emphasized that this "can't be excused by any serious Catholic."
The Bishops concluded the letter saying that "resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion," and that a failure to defend innocent life means that "all of us - from senators and members of Congress, to Catholic laypeople in the pews - fail not only as believers and disciples, but also as citizens."
Link to Bishop Morlino's homily (audio) is available here: http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/search?q=Morlino
Denver Bishops' letter is available here:
Senator Biden's voting record on abortion issues is available here: http://www.votesmart.org/voting_category.php?can_id=53279&am...