I am not the pope. I was never a nun. I am barely a good Catholic, even though I do the absolute minimum to keep my club membership current.
I am, however, a skilled detector of hypocrisy. Which makes me the perfect person to talk about the second Catholic president.
Joe Biden is a Catholic. He was baptized, and goes to church, so it is technically a correct description. So calling Joe Biden a Catholic is as legitimate as calling the pope a Catholic, or Lady Gaga a Catholic, or even Andrew Cuomo a Catholic. Heck, if Dr. Gosnell was baptized in the faith, he would also be a technical Catholic (although I am quite certain he was baptized in hellfire).
As I sit here, writing this column, it is the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion nationwide. This is the day that our technically Catholic president decided to issue a statement that read in part:
“The Biden-Harris administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational principles like Roe.”
Many in the abortion-rights movement were likely dancing with joy at that announcement, given the fact that they’d had to deal the last four years with an administration that actually believed in the sacred humanity of the unborn child. Now, of course, they got their folks back in, which is fine since elections have consequences.
Or to paraphrase Oprah, “You get an abortion, and you get an abortion, and you get an abortion!”
The problem is not so much with the principle as it is with the messenger. The technically Catholic president chose the anniversary of a decision that has been condemned by his church for almost 50 years to express his devotion to the abortion rights movement.
If Catholics were honest, they would be looking at this with the same horror the disciples regarded the crucified Christ. But there are a lot of technical Catholics out there who are perfectly fine with their new president standing in solidarity with those who find nothing sacred in the unborn child. One of them is actually a technical Catholic priest named James Martin, who wrote an entire article for the Jesuit “America” magazine blaming pro-life Trump supporters for the siege on the Capitol earlier this month.
Then you have technical Catholic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi expressing her deep sorrow at the fact that her fellow Catholic voters had chosen Donald Trump, expressing her “great grief as a Catholic” and accusing us of “being willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.”
Fortunately, a real Catholic by the name of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone reminded the distressed speaker that “one thing is clear: No Catholic in good conscience can favor abortion. ‘Right to choose’ is a smokescreen for perpetuating an entire industry that profits from one of the most heinous evils imaginable. Our land is soaked with the blood of the innocent, and it must stop.”
Yes, there are Catholics who oppose abortion but support the death penalty. I’m one of them. I am fully prepared to cop to the accusation that I am a hypocrite, and perhaps a technical Catholic in my own way. Maybe the only true Catholics are the ones who live the creed and message that all life is precious. Maybe they are the only ones who can stand at the gates of heaven and stare St. Peter in the face with confidence and conviction. The rest of us might limp up to that citadel with hunched shoulders and heavy human baggage.
But I just wish everyone would stop pretending Joe Biden is representative of my faith. I wish they would rip the halo off of his aging head, and stop pretending that he is a dutiful son of the church. Enough of this hagiography and acknowledgement of his decency. Enough, too, of Nancy Pelosi and the Jesuit father, and their political theater.
Imperfect as I am, and with the full sense that I carry the albatross of my sins with me every day, I know that I am at least innocent of calling the lost generations “a choice” and a “right.”
That’s something the technical Catholic will never be able to claim. And the saddest part is that he, and so many other technical Catholics, don’t seem to give a damn.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times in Philadelphia and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.