09 September 2008

On Senator Biden

It would seem that NBC’s Meet the Press is becoming the Bishops’ best friend in terms of offering explicit teaching moments to present the authentic faith of the Church.

This past Sunday – as you no doubt already know – democratic vice presidential candidate Senator Joe Biden, like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi before him, spoke on the “issue” of abortion.

Mr. Tom Brokaw posed the question to Senator Biden, as he did to Speaker Pelosi, “When does life begin…? As a Roman Catholic, what would you say to him?”

Senator Biden then took it upon himself to demonstrate again his lack of knowledge as to the Catholic faith. He said:

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.

The basic problem with Senator Biden’s assessment is that the Church’s teaching on the beginning of life is not so much a matter of faith but a matter of the natural law! Either human life begins at conception or it doesn’t; why is this so hard to understand?

If Senator Biden truly believes that human life begins at conception his conscience would bind and require him – as his Catholic faith would teach him - to defend every human life by opposing abortion because the defense of the defenseless must come before the recognition of somebody else’s mistaken view of reality.

In a pluralistic society, a decision must always be made either agreeing with someone’s judgment or opposing it; decisions are necessary in life, even if they offend. Often times, the more a decision offends the greater the importance of the question and decision. It certainly is so in this case.

By refusing to “impose” his own view, Senator Biden imposes the view of another, another who happens to be dead wrong. By refusing to act, he willingly allows thousands to die.

Mr. Brokaw pointed out in the inconsistency in the Senator’s position, saying, “But if you, you believe that life begins at conception, and you’ve also voted for abortion rights…”

Senator Biden responded thus:

No, what I 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.

Again, the fact of the beginning of human life is not a matter of faith, as Senator Biden means it. Either human life begins at conception or it does not. My personal belief based on religious faith cannot change this reality.

Senator Biden then followed Speaker Pelosi’ lead, claiming a debate on this teaching within the Church. Apparently the Senator is unaware of the more than twenty Bishops who corrected the Speaker of the House’s false claims.

Really, is this so difficult to understand?

Fr. Zuhlsdorf at What Does the Prayer Really Say? fisks the Senator’s words. The American Papist is also following this story.

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