Saturday, August 23, 2008

Senator Biden and Catholic teaching...

It's official. Senator Obama has chosen Senator Joe Biden (a man who professes to be Catholic) as his running mate. Since the Senator from Pennsylvania professes to be Catholic, it is important to discern whether or not he is a Catholic in fact or simply in name.

In an article published in the Christian Science Monitor and entitled "A frank and abiding faith," Senator Biden (who supports Roe v. Wade) is quoted as having said: "My views are totally consistent with Catholic social doctrine...there are elements within the Church who say that if you are at odds with any of the teachings of the Church, you are at odds with the Church. I think the Church is bigger than that...I was raised at a time when the Catholic Church was fertile with new ideas [read dissenting ones] and open discussion [e.g., Curran et al openly dissenting from Humanae Vitae] about some of the basic social teaching of the Catholic Church...questioning was not criticized, it was encouraged." (View article here).

Notice the contradiction here? First the Senator asserts that his views are "totally consistent" with Catholic doctrine but then argues that one is not necessarily "at odds with the Church" if one is "at odds with any of the teachings of the Church." Apparently Senator Biden never studied logic at University.

In his Apostolic Letter Motu Proprio Ad Tuendam Fidem (Joe probably doesn't have a copy), Pope John Paul II wrote:

"To protect the faith of the Catholic Church against errors arising from certain members of the Christian faithful, especially from among those dedicated to the various disciplines of sacred theology, we, whose principal duty is to confirm the brethren in the faith (Lk 22:32), consider it absolutely necessary to add to the existing texts of the Code of Canon Law and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, new norms which expressly impose the obligation of upholding truths proposed in a definitive way by the Magisterium of the Church, and which also establish related canonical sanctions....

Canon 750 of the Code of Canon Law will now consist of two paragraphs; the first will present the text of the existing canon; the second will contain a new text. Thus, canon 750, in its complete form, will read:

Canon 750 – § 1. Those things are to be believed by divine and catholic faith which are contained in the word of God as it has been written or handed down by tradition, that is, in the single deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and which are at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn Magisterium of the Church, or by its ordinary and universal Magisterium, which in fact is manifested by the common adherence of Christ’s faithful under the guidance of the sacred Magisterium. All are therefore bound to avoid any contrary doctrines.

§ 2. Furthermore, each and everything set forth definitively by the Magisterium of the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals must be firmly accepted and held; namely, those things required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith; therefore, anyone who rejects propositions which are to be held definitively sets himself against the teaching of the Catholic Church."

Elements within the Church? Try Canon Law Joe.

On abortion, the Senator is quoted as having said, "I don't think I have the right to impose my view - on something I accept as a matter of faith - on the rest of society." We're all familiar with this particular approach to the question of abortion, first employed with success by Mario Cuomo. Of course, the argument is illogical since every piece of legislation presupposes a world view or morality. To those who say, "You cannot legislate morality" I answer that we legislate nothing else.

What does the Church have to say about Senator Biden's argument? In his Encyclical Letter Evangelium Vitae, Nos. 68-70, Pope John Paul II teaches us that:

" is claimed that civil law cannot demand that all citizens should live according to moral standards higher than what all citizens themselves acknowledge and share. Hence the law should always express the opinion and will of the majority of citizens and recognize that they have, at least in certain extreme cases, the right even to abortion and euthanasia. Moreover the prohibition and the punishment of abortion and euthanasia in these cases would inevitably lead-so it is said-to an increase of illegal practices: and these would not be subject to necessary control by society and would be carried out in a medically unsafe way. The question is also raised whether supporting a law which in practice cannot be enforced would not ultimately undermine the authority of all laws.

Finally, the more radical views go so far as to maintain that in a modern and pluralistic society people should be allowed complete freedom to dispose of their own lives as well as of the lives of the unborn: it is asserted that it is not the task of the law to choose between different moral opinions, and still less can the law claim to impose one particular opinion to the detriment of others. (68).

In any case, in the democratic culture of our time it is commonly held that the legal system of any society should limit itself to taking account of and accepting the convictions of the majority. It should therefore be based solely upon what the majority itself considers moral and actually practices. Furthermore, if it is believed that an objective truth shared by all is de facto unattainable, then respect for the freedom of the citizens-who in a democratic system are considered the true rulers-would require that on the legislative level the autonomy of individual consciences be acknowledged. Consequently, when establishing those norms which are absolutely necessary for social coexistence, the only determining factor should be the will of the majority, whatever this may be. Hence every politician, in his or her activity, should clearly separate the realm of private conscience from that of public conduct.

As a result we have what appear to be two diametrically opposed tendencies. On the one hand, individuals claim for themselves in the moral sphere the most complete freedom of choice and demand that the State should not adopt or impose any ethical position but limit itself to guaranteeing maximum space for the freedom of each individual, with the sole limitation of not infringing on the freedom and rights of any other citizen. On the other hand, it is held that, in the exercise of public and professional duties, respect for other people's freedom of choice requires that each one should set aside his or her own convictions in order to satisfy every demand of the citizens which is recognized and guaranteed by law; in carrying out one's duties the only moral criterion should be what is laid down by the law itself. Individual responsibility is thus turned over to the civil law, with a renouncing of personal conscience, at least in the public sphere. (69).

At the basis of all these tendencies lies the ethical relativism which characterizes much of present-day culture. There are those who consider such relativism an essential condition of democ- racy, inasmuch as it alone is held to guarantee tolerance, mutual respect between people and acceptance of the decisions of the majority, whereas moral norms considered to be objective and binding are held to lead to authoritarianism and intolerance. But it is precisely the issue of respect for life which shows what misunderstandings and contradictions, accompanied by terrible practical consequences, are concealed in this position.

It is true that history has known cases where crimes have been committed in the name of "truth". But equally grave crimes and radical denials of freedom have also been committed and are still being committed in the name of "ethical relativism". When a parliamentary or social majority decrees that it is legal, at least under certain conditions, to kill unborn human life, is it not really making a "tyrannical" decision with regard to the weakest and most defenceless of human beings?
Everyone's conscience rightly rejects those crimes against humanity of which our century has had such sad experience. But would these crimes cease to be crimes if, instead of being committed by unscrupulous tyrants, they were legitimated by popular consensus?

Democracy cannot be idolized to the point of making it a substitute for morality or a panacea for immorality. Fundamentally, democracy is a "system" and as such is a means and not an end. Its "moral" value is not automatic, but depends on conformity to the moral law to which it, like every other form of human behaviour, must be subject: in other words, its morality depends on the morality of the ends which it pursues and of the means which it employs. If today we see an almost universal consensus with regard to the value of democracy, this is to be considered a positive "sign of the times", as the Church's Magisterium has frequently noted. But the value of democracy stands or falls with the values which it embodies and promotes. Of course, values such as the dignity of every human person, respect for inviolable and inalienable human rights, and the adoption of the "common good" as the end and criterion regulating political life are certainly fundamental and not to be ignored.

The basis of these values cannot be provisional and changeable "majority" opinions, but only the acknowledgment of an objective moral law which, as the "natural law" written in the human heart, is the obligatory point of reference for civil law itself. If, as a result of a tragic obscuring of the collective conscience, an attitude of scepticism were to succeed in bringing into question even the fundamental principles of the moral law, the democratic system itself would be shaken in its foundations, and would be reduced to a mere mechanism for regulating different and opposing interests on a purely empirical basis." (70).

Senator Biden doesn't believe that a pro-abortion stance renders one ineligible to receive Holy Eucharist. But he is simply wrong. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1395, teaches that: "The Eucharist is properly the sacrament of those who are in full communion with the Church." This is the Magisterial teaching of the Church.

In the words of Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger:

1. Presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion should be a conscious decision, based on a reasoned judgment regarding one’s worthiness to do so, according to the Church’s objective criteria, asking such questions as: "Am I in full communion with the Catholic Church? Am I guilty of grave sin? Have I incurred a penalty (e.g. excommunication, interdict) that forbids me to receive Holy Communion? Have I prepared myself by fasting for at least an hour?" The practice of indiscriminately presenting oneself to receive Holy Communion, merely as a consequence of being present at Mass, is an abuse that must be corrected (cf. Instruction "Redemptionis Sacramentum," nos. 81, 83).

2. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a "grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. [...] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it’" (no. 73). Christians have a "grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. [...] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it" (no. 74).

3. Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

4. Apart from an individual's judgment about his worthiness to present himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, the minister of Holy Communion may find himself in the situation where he must refuse to distribute Holy Communion to someone, such as in cases of a declared excommunication, a declared interdict, or an obstinate persistence in manifest grave sin (cf. can. 915).

5. Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.

6. When "these precautionary measures have not had their effect or in which they were not possible," and the person in question, with obstinate persistence, still presents himself to receive the Holy Eucharist, "the minister of Holy Communion must refuse to distribute it" (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts Declaration "Holy Communion and Divorced, Civilly Remarried Catholics" [2002], nos. 3-4). This decision, properly speaking, is not a sanction or a penalty. Nor is the minister of Holy Communion passing judgment on the person’s subjective guilt, but rather is reacting to the person’s public unworthiness to receive Holy Communion due to an objective situation of sin.

[N.B. A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.] (Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion, General Principles).
Related reading: Biden on the life issues.


Anonymous said...

The Church's teaching on abortion is definitive. Senator Biden is not in communion with the Church and should not present himself for Communion.

Senator Obama chose Senator Biden because he wants to appeal to the Catholic vote. Why he says he even carries around a Rosary with him. But does he pray it? Our Lady has said that those who pray the Rosary and who do not neglect doing so will not fall into (or persist) in heresy.

Anonymous said...

Further analysis of Obama's choice of Biden:

First from Fidelis:

Choice of Biden Re-Opens Catholic Wound
Own Bishop Outspoken on Obligation to Protect Life
CHICAGO, Aug. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The selection of Delaware
Senator Joseph Biden as the vice presidential running mate of Barack Obama
poses a major challenge for American Catholics, according to Fidelis, a
national Catholic-based advocacy group.

Fidelis warned late last month that a pro-abortion Catholic choice as a
vice presidential candidate would offend many Catholics who have struggled
with the scandal of prominent pro-abortion Catholic politicians like
Senator Biden.

Fidelis President Brian Burch commented, "Barack Obama has re-opened a
wound among American Catholics by picking a pro-abortion Catholic
politician. The American bishops have made clear that Catholic political
leaders must defend the dignity of every human person, including the
unborn. Sadly, Joe Biden's tenure in the United States Senate has been
marked by steadfast support for legal abortion."

During the recent Democratic primary campaign Biden said: "I am a
long-standing supporter of Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose."

In 2004, John Kerry's support for abortion sparked a nationwide
controversy over whether Catholics who support legal abortion can receive
Communion. The debate was re-activated in 2007 when several bishops
criticized Rudy Guiliani, also a pro-abortion Catholic.

"Now everywhere Biden campaigns, we'll have this question of whether a
pro-abortion Catholic can receive Communion. Senator Biden is an
unrepentant supporter of abortion in direct opposition to the Church he
claims as his own. Selecting a pro-abortion Catholic is a slap in the face
to Catholic voters," said Burch.

Biden's own bishop, Bishop Michael Saltarelli of Wilmington, Del., has
said that the issues pertaining to the sanctity of human life are the
"great civil rights issues of this generation."

Bishop Saltarelli denounced the notion that politicians can 'personally
oppose' abortion, but refuse to pass laws protecting the unborn.

"No one today would accept this statement from any public servant: 'I
am personally opposed to human slavery and racism but will not impose my
personal conviction in the legislative arena.' Likewise, none of us should
accept this statement from any public servant: "I am personally opposed to
abortion but will not impose my personal conviction in the legislative
arena," said Bishop Saltarelli.

In fact, Bishop Saltarelli made clear that pro-abortion Catholic
politicians should refrain from receiving the Eucharist.

"The promotion of abortion by any Catholic is a grave and serious
matter. Objectively, according to the constant teaching of the Scriptures
and the Church, it would be more spiritually beneficial for such a person
to refrain from receiving the Body and Blood of Christ. I ask Catholics in
this position to have the integrity to respect the Eucharist, Catholic
teaching and the Catholic faithful."

Burch concluded: "The American bishops have instructed Catholic voters
to consider many issues, but have characterized the defense of human life
as 'foundational' and have explained that the issue has a special claim on
the conscience of the Catholic voter. This means that a political candidate
like Biden, because of his strong support for abortion rights, forfeits any
claim for support despite his views on other issues like health care and
the economy."

Then from Deacon Keith Fournier at Catholic Online:

Obama Chooses Biden and the Battle for Life is Engaged

8/23/2008 Catholic Online

In choosing Senator Joe Biden, the Obama campaign has guaranteed that the Right to Life will continue to be a preeminent issue in the Presidential campaign of 2008.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - After the most intense media game of “cat and mouse” in modern political history. After the Obama campaign managed to keep the suspense alive for well over a week. After promising to be the first campaign in history to make the announcement through the use of text message. The old fashioned “leak it to the media” game prevailed over high technology in Washington D.C. as speculation evolved into reliable rumors. Finally, around 3 AM, EST, it was confirmed as fact. Senator Barack Obama had chosen long time Senator Joe Biden of Delaware to be his Vice Presidential running mate.

The Obama campaign scrambled to fulfill their promise to the faithful, and the curious, who had signed up to be a part of political history. They sent the long awaited cell phone text message, probably awakening millions, at least on the East Coast, to herald what was essentially old news, "Barack has chosen Senator Joe Biden to be our VP nominee."

The major networks were all following the homes and the travels of the three “finalists” most of the day. The speculation was running rampant and the news cycle focused on very little else throughout the day. It appeared to this political observer that Fox News zeroed in on Joe Biden first on their Friday evening telecast.Soon,all of the networks broke the story.

The Obama campaign placed a new banner on their Web Site picturing the two men, announcing the new Democratic Ticket with these words underneath: “Barack has chosen Joe Biden to be his running mate. Joe Biden brings extensive foreign policy experience, an impressive record of collaborating across party lines, and a direct approach to getting the job done. We have our team, but we also have our work cut out for us. Barack Obama and Joe Biden are the leaders who will bring the change our country needs. But they can't do it alone. Show your support for the Obama-Biden ticket by making a donation today.”

The Choice of a Catholic Running Mate

So the fresh face of American politics has chosen as his Vice Presidential running mate a “seasoned” white haired fixture of Democratic politics, best known for his interest in foreign policy, with 30 years in the US Senate. Senator Biden has served as Chair of the Senate Foreign relations Committee and the Judiciary Committee, with its significant role in Supreme Court nominations. Already the Washington rumor mills are abuzz and the pundit class has taken a deep breath preparing for a new round of pontification. Frankly, there seems to be very little excitement and a whole lot of surprise.

I suggest that the choice of Biden was strategic on a number of fronts,many of which will be dissected in the endless punditry which will fill the airwaves this weekend. However, what will soon become apparent is the Obama campaigns’ efforts to stem the steady loss of Catholic and Evangelical support based upon the candidates support for unrestricted abortion affirmed during the Saddleback Civil Forum. He had tried hard, through surrogates like Doug Kmiec and others, to present a softer side, an apparent opening to reconsidering the Democratic Parties’ obsession with the deprivation of human rights from children in the womb over the last two decades. All of that was teetering on being lost.

So, enter Joe Biden the Catholic. Joe Biden is a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania has Irish, blue collar, working-class roots which he will certainly attempt to bring to the campaign. He is a practicing Roman Catholic Christian. Along with his wife Jill, he attends St. Patrick Church, which is a part of the Diocese of Wilmington in Delaware. His careful discussion concerning all of the issues related to the deprivation of rights from children in the womb have been careful and strategic. He is a talented debater, a solid interviewee, a careful speaker on this issue. I believe that the Obama campaign is counting on this to stem the loss and attempt to reengage the efforts to attract Catholics and other orthodox Christians who simply will not accept any candidate who argues that an entire class of persons, children in the first home of the whole human race, can be summarily killed and that such an action should be called a “right”.

Joe Biden is also a member of that group of Catholics, from both major parties, who have come under unrelenting scrutiny from a growing and vocal part of the Catholic lay faithful. These Republicans and Democrats try to expound a “public/private” dichotomy on the fundamental human rights issue of our age, the Right to life from conception to natural death. Senator Biden the Catholic purports to be personally opposed to abortion and to “accept” the clear Catholic teaching that all human life is sacred and must be protected and respected from the moment of conception, throughout all of life’s spectrum and to a natural death. Yet, in his own words, he also "strongly supports Roe v Wade”, which was the Supreme Court decision that entrenched unrestricted abortion as the positive law in America.

While still a candidate for the Presidency himself, he participated in the NBC sponsored Presidential debate of April 27, 2008 in South Carolina. The venue gave him the opportunity to summarize his position as he responded to a question concerning the nomination of potential Supreme Court Justices and the decision of that Court in affirming the federal ban on partial birth abortions:

MODERATOR: Senator Biden, as president would you have a specific litmus test question on Roe v. Wade that you would ask of your nominees for the high court?

BIDEN: I strongly support Roe v. Wade. I wouldn't have a specific question but I would make sure that the people I sent to be nominated for the Supreme Court shared my values; and understood that there is a right to privacy in the United States Constitution. That's why I lead the fight to defeat Bork. Thank God he is not in the court or Roe v. Wade would be gone by now.

Number two, that's why I was so outspoken and have been criticized for being outspoken and leading the effort to try to defeat Roberts and Alito. That's why I opposed, the other, Thomas on the court. The truth of the matter is that this decision (Ed: referring to Partial Birth Abortion) was intellectually dishonest. I think it is a rare procedure that should only be available when the woman's life and health is at stake.

But, what this court did is it took that decision, and it said -- put a Trojan horse in -- through dishonest reasoning, laid the groundwork for undoing Roe v. Wade. That's the danger of this decision. Not the specific procedure, but the rationale offered to justify, I think, the next step they're going to try to take.”

So, Senator Biden has tried to have it both ways. To say that he supports the ban on “Partial Birth” abortion but also opposed the Supreme Courts decision to uphold it? In an April 29th interview with the late Tim Russert on “Meet the Press” the now Vice Presidential candidate was asked to elaborate further on this position:

MR. RUSSERT: Let me talk—turn to abortion. The ban on partial-birth abortions or late-term abortions, you supported that ban.
SEN. BIDEN: I did and I do.
MR. RUSSERT: And the Supreme Court came and basically upheld that ban...
SEN. BIDEN: That’s right.
MR. RUSSERT: ...and you criticized the Supreme Court.
SEN. BIDEN: I’ll tell you why I criticized the Supreme Court. They upheld the ban, and then they engaged in what we lawyers call dicta that is frightening. You had an intellectually dishonest rationale for an honest justification for upholding the ban, and that was this: They went further, and then they, in the language associated with the decision said, by the way, they blurred whether there is the first trimester and third trimester in how much—I know this is going to sound arcane to the listeners—but whether or not they blurred the distinction between the government’s role in being involved in the first day and the ninth month.

They blurred the role in terms of whether or not there is—they became paternalistic, talking about the court could consider the impact on the mother and keeping her from making a mistake. This is all code for saying, “Here we come to undo Roe v. Wade.” And it went on to say, by the way, that the life of the mother was, in fact, permissible exception, and it went on to say that even—that any woman could challenge, even if her health is at risk, could come back to the court to challenge that. So the bottom line here is, what they did is not so much the decision, the actual outcome of the decision, it’s what attended the decision that portends for a real hard move on the court to undo the right of privacy. That’s what I’m criticizing about the court’s decision.

MR. RUSSERT: You have changed your position on abortion. When you came to the Senate, you believed that Roe v. Wade was not correctly decided and that you also believed a right of abortion was not secured by the Constitution. Why did you change your mind?

SEN. BIDEN: Well, I was 29 years old when I came to the United States Senate, and I have learned a lot. Look, Tim, I’m a practicing Catholic, and it is the biggest dilemma for me in terms of comporting my, my religious and cultural views with my political responsibility. And the decision that I have come to is Roe v. Wade is as close to we’re going to be able to get as a society that incorporates the general lines of debate within Christendom, Judaism and other faiths, where it basically says there is a sliding scale relating to viability of a fetus. We can argue about whether or not it’s precisely set, whether it’s right or wrong in terms of its three months as opposed to two months, but it does encompass, I’ve come to conclude, the only means by which, in this heterogeneous society of ours, we can read some general accommodation on what is a religiously charged and a publicly-charged debate. That’s the, that’s the decision I’ve come to.

Even within our own church, there’s been debates about life, you know, from, from “Summa Theologica,” Aquinas, and 40 days to quickening and right to, you know, you know, Pious IX, animated fetus doctrine and so on. So this—the, the, the decision’s the closest thing politically to what has been the philosophic divisions existent among the major confessional faiths in our country. And that’s why, I think, that’s why I’ve come to the conclusion some long time ago, over 25 years ago, that is the—it is the template which makes the most sense.

MR. RUSSERT: Are you still opposed to public funding for abortion?

SEN. BIDEN: I still am opposed to public funding for abortion, and the reason I am is, again, it goes to the question of whether or not you’re going to impose a view to support something that is not a guaranteed right but an affirmative action to promote.

MR. RUSSERT: Were you yourself—do you believe that life begins at conception?

SEN. BIDEN: I am prepared to accept my church’s view. I think it’s a tough one. I have to accept that on faith. That is a tough, tough decision to me. But there is a point relatively soon where viability—it’s clear to me when there’s viability, meaning the ability to survive outside the womb, that I don’t have any doubt. That’s why the late-term abortion, and that’s why I continue, like your old boss Pat Moynihan, shared the same view, he was very pro-choice is—to use the jargon. But he, like me, believed that you have this notion of abortion in the last month, where there’s clearly viability. And if you make that judgment based upon the nature of the child’s health, that is not a good basis for a societal decision. Only the mother’s health should be—dictate the outcome then. Otherwise, you, you yield to the side of the—of, of, of the fetus, which is almost full term”

So, Senator Obama continues his quest to obfuscate by choosing an intelligent Catholic who tries to confuse this vital and foundational issue for Catholics, other orthodox Christians, many other people of faith and people of good will. True, there is some language that is hopeful in this answer like Biden's apparent opposition to public funding for abortion. However, the last answer, in which he tried to rely on St. Thomas in order to hint that the teaching office of the Catholic Church has been anything but unequivocally clear on the issue of the Right to Life for children from the moment of conception, cannot go unchallenged. Let me go right to one of many, many sources in an unbroken 2000 year tradition, only the latest use of infallible language in the Papal Encyclical of the late Servant of God John Paul II. I quote from paragraph 57 of “The Gospel of Life”:

”Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

"The deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of his life is always morally evil and can never be licit either as an end in itself or as a means to a good end. It is in fact a grave act of disobedience to the moral law, and indeed to God himself, the author and guarantor of that law; it contradicts the fundamental virtues of justice and charity. "Nothing and no one can in any way permit the killing of an innocent human being, whether a fetus or an embryo, an infant or an adult, an old person, or one suffering from an incurable disease, or a person who is dying. Furthermore, no one is permitted to ask for this act of killing, either for himself or herself or for another person entrusted to his or her care, nor can he or she consent to it, either explicitly or implicitly. Nor can any authority legitimately recommend or permit such an action".

"As far as the right to life is concerned, every innocent human being is absolutely equal to all others. This equality is the basis of all authentic social relationships which, to be truly such, can only be founded on truth and justice, recognizing and protecting every man and woman as a person and not as an object to be used. Before the moral norm which prohibits the direct taking of the life of an innocent human being "there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the poorest of the poor' on the face of the earth. Before the demands of morality we are all absolutely equal".

There is much more to be unpacked concerning Senator Joseph Biden’s sophistry and his effort to obfuscate the teaching of his own Church so as to justify his infidelity as a Catholic on this foundational Human Rights issue. It was intellectually dishonest to attempt to refer to the late master of the moral life and preeminent philosopher of the Western Christian tradition, St. Thomas Aquinas, on this issue in the way that Senator Biden did. This out of context reference to St.Thomas was rooted in the then prevailing mistaken biology of the great teachers age as to how children were conceived. It must be considered within the broad context of Aquinas’ unequivocal opposition to abortion. In fact, the Saint rightly equated the act to murder.

It also must be seen within the broader, unbroken, two thousand year teaching of the Catholic Church that every procured abortion is the taking of innocent human life and is intrinsically evil. Senator Biden sings with the chorus of sophists, not unlike Senator Kerry in the last election, Catholics who will try to use their Church identity to accomplish their political goal while remaining unfaithful to their own Churches teaching.

However, even more importantly, the truth revealed in that Church teaching does not depend upon it. It is a truth that is revealed in the Natural Law and is knowable by all men and women through the exercise of human reason. Senator Biden is fond of citing his Catholic education. Therefore he knows the teaching on Natural Law. He, along with Mario Cuomo who invented the ploy, John Kerry, and all of the others, also know this.

However, they have gotten away with it in elections past. Not this time. The Catholic lay faithful are more active, vocal and unwilling to allow the continued shedding of the blood of innocent children to remain the law of the land. Without the right to life there are no other rights. In fact, the entire hierarchy of rights is thrown into jeopardy. Without the freedom to be born, every oher freedom is unable to be exercised because freedom itself is a good of human persons.

In choosing Senator Joe Biden, the Obama campaign has guaranteed that the Right to Life will continue to be a preeminent issue in the Presidential campaign of 2008. Of course, after Senator McCain’s performance in the Saddleback Civil Forum and his clear defense of human rights from conception to natural death, all eyes now turn to his own choice for Vice President.

Ellen Wironken said...

John Paul II also said that, "It is sometimes reported that a large number of Catholics today do not adhere to the teaching of the Church on a number of questions, notably sexual and conjugal morality, divorce and remarriage. Some are reported as not accepting the Church's clear position on abortion. It has also been noted that there is a tendency on the part of some Catholics to be selective in their adherence to the Church's moral teachings...

It is sometimes claimed that dissent from the Magisterium is totally compatible with being a 'good Catholic' and poses no obstacle to the reception of the Sacraments. THIS IS A GRAVE ERROR THAT CHALLENGES THE TEACHING OFFICE OF THE BISHOPS OF THE UNITED STATES AND ELSEWHERE..."

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