I was glad to see after the Vice Presidential debate last week that the USCCB had immediately come out with a statement on the total falsity of Joe Biden’s claims about the HHS mandate. Even if it didn’t even mention his name. It is not as if people reading the statement would not know the answer to that.
Still I would like to have seen another statement released regarding what was the “elephant in the room” or really the “infant in the womb.” Joe Biden pulled out the ole “personally opposed” Kennedy chestnut and added about not being able to impose his faith on others. This tortured reasoning has been pulled out again and again and it really should be answered by the USCCB when used in this circumstance before an audience of some fifty million people.
The bishops have spoken on this before both individually and via the USCCB such as in the document “Living the Gospel of Life”
Since the entry of Catholics into the U.S. political mainstream, believers have struggled to balance their faith with the perceived demands of democratic pluralism. As a result, some Catholic elected officials have adopted the argument that, while they personally oppose evils like abortion, they cannot force their religious views onto the wider society. This is seriously mistaken on several key counts. First, regarding abortion, the point when human life begins is not a religious belief but a scientific fact — a fact on which there is clear agreement even among leading abortion advocates. Second, the sanctity of human life is not merely Catholic doctrine but part of humanity’s global ethical heritage, and our nation’s founding principle. Finally, democracy is not served by silence. Most Americans would recognize the contradiction in the statement, “While I am personally opposed to slavery or racism or sexism I cannot force my personal view on the rest of society.” Real pluralism depends on people of conviction struggling vigorously to advance their beliefs by every ethical and legal means at their disposal.
Which is great for the 100 or so Catholics that might have actually seen this document.
Now fact-checking Catholic politicians who distort the Church’s teaching is not really their purview. Really you would need a full-time staff just for Rep. Nancy Pelosi. You also have to pick your battles. Issuing a statement every time some Catholic politician says something theologically stupid would be an easy way for the media to ignore you – or ignore you more than they already do. Still the USSCB statement after the debate certainly did get some coverage.
Archbishop Chaput did comment on this as the “latest outrageous example” of the phony divide between belief and action. At the same time he also said “I call you as a Catholic, to forget about the labels, be a liberal sometimes, a conservative sometimes, but a Catholic first.” This is of course exactly right. Really I think the USCCB should have corrected VP Joe Biden on the “impose my faith” aspect and corrected Rep. Paul Ryan on supporting the abortion exemptions.
Now if you were to try to take Biden’s argument seriously on not being able to impose one’s belief than his career has a legislature is rather odd. It is not as if he only voted on legislation that was supported by 100% of his constituents. Every act of the legislature imposes something on others that they don’t like. Plus you just can’t take the argument seriously at all while they are imposing the HHS mandate on Catholics and others and then bragging about it.
Possibly I am falling in the trap of wanting the USCCB to do things. Well actually I have fallen into that trap. When really what I should be wanting is individual bishops to be vocal when such outrageous statements are made. Some of them certainly have been vocal on this. Or really a both/and approach would be quite fine with me. The line that Biden used should be slapped down and as the media loves to say “slammed” so that the next pro-abortion politician might just think a little bit before using it.