Catholic Bishops Choose Trump Over Biden
Some people can’t take yes for an answer. Take America’s Catholic bishops.
For only the second time in our history, a Catholic has been elected president of the United States. But Joe Biden’s not just a Catholic in name only, like John F. Kennedy. Biden’s a practicing Catholic. He faithfully attends mass every Sunday (or Saturday evening). He carries a rosary with him. He talks openly about how his faith informs his politics.
Reflecting what Jesus taught and practiced, Biden once told The Hill: “My faith teaches me to care for the least among us.” Shortly before the 2020 election, he told The Christian Post: “My faith implores me to embrace a preferential option for the poor and, as president, I will do everything in my power to fight poverty.”
When it comes to faith and Catholicism, Joe Biden’s the real deal. So what do American Catholic bishops do? Celebrate the success and example of one of their own? No. They’re trying to throw Joe Biden under the bus.
Top of the agenda at a general assembly of America’s Catholic bishops this week was scheduling a vote in November on a proposal to deny communion to President Biden and other elected Catholics because they are pro-choice. It’s the same ban they tried, but failed, to enact against vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004. Now they’re going after Joe Biden. Even though – get this! – Pope Francis begged them not to!
In a statement this month, Pope Francis urged bishops not to use access to the Eucharist as a political weapon. The sacrament of communion, he preached, “is not the reward of saints, but the bread of sinners.” The Vatican’s top doctrinal official, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, wrote a letter to American bishops warning them that going ahead with such a vote could “become a source of discord rather than unity” – a view echoed by Catholic lay leader Steve Schneck, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network, who told me it would widen “the already too sharp division among American Catholics, shattering solidarity and dividing Catholics against Catholics.”
In other words, the pope and others have warned: don’t play politics with communion. “Would Jesus deny anyone a place at the table?” Schneck asks. “I don’t think so.” But American bishops, led by extreme right-wing Jose Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles, seem determined to do just that.
The bishops are dead wrong on several counts. For starters, they don’t reflect the views of most American Catholics, 56 percent of whom, according to Pew Research, believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. Eighty-nine percent of Catholics disagree with the church ban on contraception.
Which raises the question: Why are bishops so obsessed with sex? All these old white guys care about is abortion, birth control, or same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church is also officially against the death penalty and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Have bishops ever threatened to deny communion to any politician, Republican or Democrat, who votes for the death penalty or for building more nukes? No!
And get this. Just six months into his presidency, American bishops are now convening to condemn man of faith Joe Biden – when, during four years, they never said a peep about serial adulterer Donald Trump. Trump, who seldom stepped into a church except for a political rally, is the antithesis of a good Christian: liar, hateful, anti-immigrant, racist, misogynist, sexual predator, inciter of violence. Yet bishops looked the other way – because he was anti-abortion.
What’s most troubling is that bishops, in effect, are demanding that Joe Biden violate the Constitution by forcing his religion on all other Americans, which, to his credit, Biden refuses to do. “I accept my church’s position on abortion,” Biden has said. “That’s the Church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews.”
In the end, Schneck believes, the “communion warriors” will have no chance of rounding up the two-thirds vote needed to deny Biden communion. But even raising the issue alienates bishops from the Biden administration (whose support they will need for other issues), not to mention from the majority of American Catholics.
According to Pew Research, the percentage of American Catholics has dropped from 24 percent of the population to 21 percent, and Catholics have experienced a greater loss from religious switching than any other religion. Now we know why. American Catholics are not just leaving the church. American bishops are driving them out.
(Bill Press is host of The BillPressPod, and author of the new book, “Trump Must Go: The Top 100 Reasons to Dump Trump (And One to Keep Him).” His email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Readers may also follow him on Twitter @billpresspod.)
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