Thoughts and Faith to Share

Senator Joseph Biden’s Sophistry

Source: Obama Chooses Senator Biden for VP and the Battle for Life is Engaged by Deacon Keith Fournier, Catholic Online


… 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.

… 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.

… 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: 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 other freedom is unable to be exercised because freedom itself is a good of human persons.