News and Commentary

DC Archbishop Fires Back At Biden Over Texas ‘Heartbeat’ Law: President ‘Not Demonstrating Catholic Teaching’ With Abortion Stance
President Joe Biden, waves as he leaves the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, DC on January 24, 2021. (Photo by Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA)
Oliver Contreras/Sipa USA

Following in the footsteps of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, the archbishop of Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) home diocese in San Francisco, California — who said, this week, that excommunication could be on the table for Catholic politicians who openly support abortion —  Washington, D.C., Archbishop Cardinal Wilton Gregory had harsh criticism for President Joe Biden over his comments about the Texas “heartbeat” law, which effectively bans abortion as soon as fetal cardiac activity can be detected.

Biden commented, earlier this week, that he did not agree that “life begins at conception” and seemed to suggest that he disagreed with an immutable teaching of the Catholic Church.

“I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception,” Biden said, according to Catholic News Agency. “I don’t agree, but I respect that. I’m not going to impose that on people.”

Biden’s comments directly contradict the Catholic Church’s teaching on the subject and represent a distinct departure from Biden’s past statements on the matter.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, very plainly in paragraph 2270, that “human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.

Cardinal Gregory’s comments on Biden’s statement were very clear: he is “not demonstrating” a commitment to Catholic teaching.

“Cardinal Wilton Gregory says President Joe Biden ‘is not demonstrating Catholic teaching’ with his abortion stance,” Crux, a Catholic news publication, reported.

“The Catholic Church teaches, and has taught, that human life begins at conception, so the president is not demonstrating Catholic teaching,” he said.

“Our church has not changed its position on the immorality of abortion,” Gregory continued, referencing the idea that Catholic teaching could be evolving on the subject of abortion, given Biden’s stance, and the president’s claim that he is “devout” in his beliefs. “I don’t see how we could because we believe that every human life is sacred.”

Cardinal Gregory has largely been lukewarm on the issue of Catholic bishops denying Communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion, telling media, earlier this year, that he would privately counsel the president rather than publicly deny him the sacrament during Mass.

“He’s not going to be on speed dial, and I hope I’m not on his speed dial,” he told the Today Show in February. “But there will be moments when I will be able to speak to him about faith, about the works that he is trying to accomplish that we can be supportive of, but also areas where we’re not going to agree. But I’m going to always try to do it in a respectful way.”

Archbishop Cordileone, following an outcry about the Texas “heartbeat” law — and public statements condemning the law from Catholic politicians, including Pelosi — penned an op-ed in The Washington Post where he suggested the time may be coming when the Church levies a harsh penalty for supporting abortion and called on his colleagues in the Church hierarchy to address the issue with charity but also force.

“You cannot be a good Catholic and support expanding a government-approved right to kill innocent human beings,” Cordileone said.

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