The taxpayer-funded National Public Radio (NPR) joined the chorus of media outlets arguing that President Joe Biden’s position as a liberal Catholic could be a force to change the church’s position on important issues like abortion.
Published Saturday, the article by Sara McCammon found that liberal Catholics in America may have finally found their mascot in Joe Biden.
“For those who would like to see the church take a more permissive stance on issues including abortion, Biden’s election is an opportunity,” wrote McCammon.
“Polling suggests a majority of American Catholics support abortion rights in most or all cases and oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights, most Catholic women say they’ve used contraception at some point, which the church also opposes,” she added.
Jamie Manson, president of Catholics for Choice – a group disavowed by the USCCB – expressed hope that Biden’s presidency will lead to greater dialogue between church officials and lay members who believe differently.
“There are many issues in which Catholics are dissenting from the bishops and seeing that these are complex moral issues, whether it’s same-sex marriage, whether it’s contraception, or whether it’s abortion,” she said.
Manson also predicted that the Biden presidency and the Supreme Court will be battling over religious freedom regarding “conscience exemptions.”
“What I hope one of the impacts on policy will be is to say, ‘Listen, that is not what religious freedom is about; religious freedom is about no one being oppressed or having their civil rights lost because of individual religious beliefs,'” Manson said.
Just last year, a Catholic priest in South Carolina reportedly denied the former vice president the sacrament of Holy Communion because of his public abortion views, signaling to Biden that he was not in line with Church teaching on the issue.
“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Father Robert E. Morey of Saint Anthony Catholic Church told reporters. “Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other, and the Church. Our actions should reflect that. Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.”
This past June, after the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, struck down a Louisiana law requiring doctors who provide abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, Biden spoke out about abortion.
“Women’s health care rights have been under attack as states across the country have passed extreme laws restricting women’s constitutional right to choice under any circumstance,” Biden said in a statement. “Today the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that states cannot put in place laws that unduly burden a women’s right to make her own health care decision with her doctor.”
Writing in First Things, former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput argued that Joe Biden should be denied Holy Communion so long as he continues to publicly support abortion.
“Public figures who identify as ‘Catholic’ give scandal to the faithful when receiving Communion by creating the impression that the moral laws of the Church are optional,” wrote Chaput. “And bishops give similar scandal by not speaking up publicly about the issue and danger of sacrilege.”
“Those bishops who publicly indicate in advance that they will undertake their own dialogue with President-elect Joseph Biden and allow him Communion effectively undermine the work of the task force established at the November bishops’ conference meeting to deal precisely with this and related issues,” he continued. “This gives scandal to their brother bishops and priests, and to the many Catholics who struggle to stay faithful to Church teaching. It does damage to the bishops’ conference, to the meaning of collegiality, and to the fruitfulness of the conference’s advocacy work with the incoming administration.”
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