SEN. BIDEN: I’d say, "Look, I know when it begins for me." It’s a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I’m prepared to accept the teachings of my church. But let me tell you. There are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths–Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others–who have a different view. They believe in God as strongly as I do. They’re intensely as religious as I am religious. They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life–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. And I know you get the push back, "Well, what about fascism?" Everybody, you know, you going to say fascism’s all right? Fascism isn’t a matter of faith. No decent religious person thinks fascism is a good idea.
MR. BROKAW: But if you, you believe that life begins at conception, and you’ve also voted for abortion rights…
SEN. BIDEN: No, what a voted against curtailing the right, criminalizing abortion. I voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view that it’s a moment of conception. There is a debate in our church, as Cardinal Egan would acknowledge, that’s existed. Back in "Summa Theologia," when Thomas Aquinas wrote "Summa Theologia," he said there was no–it didn’t occur until quickening, 40 days after conception. How am I going out and tell you, if you or anyone else that you must insist upon my view that is based on a matter of faith? And that’s the reason I haven’t. But then again, I also don’t support a lot of other things. 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. This is a matter between a person’s God, however they believe in God, their doctor and themselves in what is always a–and what we’re going to be spending our time doing is making sure that we reduce considerably the amount of abortions that take place by providing the care, the assistance and the encouragement for people to be able to carry to term and to raise their children.
I previously joked about Nancy Pelosi’s comment that at least she left St. Thomas Aquinas alone since he is the one that normally gets this bad rap in regards to abortion. Well as Rocco Palmo says "Let the fisking begin."
"Look, I know when it begins for me."
Look up relativism in the dictionary and Biden’s statement should be used as an example.
There are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths–Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others–who have a different view.
Within Protestantism and Islam pretty much the dominant view matches the Catholic Church since this is a natural law issue and based on science, not just a theological questions. So this is a rather odd defense. Sure there are people within these groups that have a differing view since this is true even among some Catholics – but it is certainly not the majority view.
The defense of pluralism is one of the silliest defenses of all. It would mean you could not act on anything as a politician, but this is not what they do. No matter what you do you are going to go against some group of people and in this case he is going against the majority of wishes in a pluralistic society. Pluralism is a smokescreen used to obscure an action, not answer it. Abortion has poisoned everything including reason. This excuse could not be used on any other issue without people laughing out loud by this response. I can’t impose what I believe is the truth because there are differing views on this. Funny how it is that he is able to vote for a bunch of things that there are differing views on and is willing to impose his view on a host of issues. Funny how protecting human life he would consider fascism, but forcing abortion, homosexual marriage isn’t what he considers fascism. To the Senators credit though he voted against partial birth abortion so how is it he can by his terms impose his view on this? But expecting reason in the defense of abortion is too much to ask, especially consistency.
No, what a voted against curtailing the right, criminalizing abortion. I voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view that it’s a moment of conception.
Once again he frames this as religiously based. When I was an atheist I became a pro-life atheist during my wife’s first pregnancy. My previous pro-abortion views dissipated with the first kick. But as a pro-life atheist I was not alone since there are a number of pro-life atheists and agnostics. Nobody would argue for example that Nat Hentoff’s views against abortion are religiously bases. This is just a red herring thrown in to once again obscure. He might as well argue that "Thou shalt not kill" is religiously based and since serial killers obviously believe they have the right to do so we can’t legislate morality on them. Though of course this Commandment is part of the natural law available to everyone, just as being against abortion is.
But what we really once again have is the evil that Mario Cuomo brought to us with the "personally opposed, but" dodge. This saying is pure evil and I don’t just say this as hyperbole. "I personally believe that abortion is the intentionally murder of an innocent child, but I will vote to support it because there are differing views." This is obscene language that should instantly disqualify somebody from public office. They are saying that they will vote against their conscience and not stand up for the truth. That he is a consciousness objector to his own conscience. Nancy Pelosi while highly problematic is at least more honest than Joe Biden’s to some degree.
There is a debate in our church, as Cardinal Egan would acknowledge, that’s existed. Back in "Summa Theologia," when Thomas Aquinas wrote "Summa Theologia,"
I think his bringing up Cardinal Egan is quite a mistake. Surely we will have a reply from him shortly since he wrote one of the more scathing responses to Nancy Pelosi. I guess he also didn’t read the USSCB’s recent statement.
In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas made extensive use of Aristotle’s thought, including his theory that the rational human soul is not present in the first few weeks of pregnancy. But he also rejected abortion as gravely wrong at every stage, observing that it is a sin “against nature” to reject God’s gift of a new life.
Aquinas’ objection to abortion at all stages is never referenced by progressives and abortion supporters. They are like Bible proof-texters looking to pull any phrase out of context to support their own view.
Now will we have twenty-six different Bishops respond to Sen. Joe Biden? Though there are some differences between what Nancy Pelosi said in distorting the history of the Church’s view and what Sen. Biden says with his typical "Personally opposed, but…" dodge. Though I think "personally opposed" is much more in need of correction, especially since so many use this. This should have been responded to immediately when Cuomo first used it, but it is better late than never.
In other recent news Nancy Pelosi has accepted the invitation to talk with her bishop. The cynic in me thinks not much will come of this, thank God the Christian in me has seen the paths of grace throughout history and prays for her conversion.
I have just created a new Facebook group called Praying for Pro-abortion Politicians Project (P4) so if you are on Facebook and want to join in here you go.
Update: American Papist adds his always excellent overall coverage.
Father Z adds his comments.
Christopher at Catholics Against Joe Biden also weighs in with a good post.