Joe Biden Is A Very Good Catholic, Boston Globe Says

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Joe Biden is a believing, praying, church-going, deeply committed Roman Catholic who believes the government should allow babies to be killed before they’re born and should force other people to pay for it through their tax dollars.

That’s a fair summation of a 2,166-word news story in The Boston Globe about the man currently scheduled to become our nation’s second Catholic president.

That’s not the message of the story, mind you, which never gets around to stating what the Catholic Church teaches about abortion or why. That would, of course, make the argument about Biden’s religious commitment to social justice harder to sustain.

Social justice begins at the beginning, as does Catholic social teaching – which, the Globe tells us, “emerged in the 1890s” on the “central” tenet that “all people are created with inherent dignity.”

Christians who “emerged” before the 1890s would be astonished to hear that their religion did not teach that all people have inherent dignity. Spend about five minutes reading any portion of the Gospels, or maybe about 10 minutes reading any portion of St. Paul’s letters, and you would come to the same conclusion. (Or maybe about one minute reading the Letter of St. James.)

Still, let’s play along. The Globe story is presumably referring to Rerum Novarum, the encyclical Pope Leo XIII issued in 1891 on the rights of working people and how rich people and poor people should treat each other.

If Joe Biden does indeed become president, he ought to issue an executive order demanding that from here on in anyone who makes a reference to Rerum Novarum actually read it. That goes double for anyone who makes special pleading to something called “Catholic social teaching.”

To be sure, Pope Leo said that poor people have “a natural right to procure what is required in order to live … by what they can earn through their work.” He also encouraged what he called “workingmen’s unions,” which he saw as the successor to medieval craftsmen’s guilds.

He also said that “when there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration.” The reason? “The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State,” the pope said.

Those expecting a paean to the modern Democratic Party’s platform, however, may be surprised by the rest of it. For Rerum Novarum begins with support for the right of private property and a trashing of socialism and of anyone who would undermine the rights of the family. He argues, among other things, that abandoning Christianity spells doom for a previously Christian society.

Let’s go to the videotape.

Here’s Leo on the family versus the government:  “The contention … that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error” (paragraph 14).

Here’s Leo on private property and taxes:  “The right to possess private property is derived from nature, not from man; and the State has the right to control its use in the interests of the public good alone, but by no means to absorb it altogether. The State would therefore be unjust and cruel if under the name of taxation it were to deprive the private owner of more than is fair” (paragraph 47).

Here’s Leo on trying to eliminate what today they call “income inequality”:  “It must be first of all recognized that the condition of things inherent in human affairs must be borne with, for it is impossible to reduce civil society to one dead level. Socialists may in that intent do their utmost, but all striving against nature is in vain. There naturally exist among mankind manifold differences of the most important kind; people differ in capacity, skill, health, strength; and unequal fortune is a necessary result of unequal condition. Such unequality is far from being disadvantageous either to individuals or to the community” (paragraph 17).

Here’s Leo on trying to create a just society while booting Christianity from culture:  “Of these facts there cannot be any shadow of doubt: for instance, that civil society was renovated in every part by Christian institutions; that in the strength of that renewal the human race was lifted up to better things — nay, that it was brought back from death to life … Of this beneficent transformation Jesus Christ was at once the first cause and the final end … And if human society is to be healed now, in no other way can it be healed save by a return to Christian life and Christian institutions. When a society is perishing, the wholesome advice to give to those who would restore it is to call it to the principles from which it sprang …” (paragraph 27)

Here’s Leo on turning to violence to achieve social progress:  “… the following bind the proletarian and the worker:  fully and faithfully to perform the work which has been freely and equitably agreed upon; never to injure the property, nor to outrage the person, of an employer; never to resort to violence in defending their own cause, nor to engage in riot or disorder; and to have nothing to do with men of evil principles, who work upon the people with artful promises of great results, and excite foolish hopes which usually end in useless regrets and grievous loss” (paragraph 20).

Does any of this sound like the modern Democratic Party?

Does any of this sound like Joe Biden?

The Globe story describes Catholic social teaching as consisting of “10 principles centered on social justice and the common good.” Here’s one, according to a Jesuit writer:  “respect for human life.”

But let’s say it’s all just about, as the Globe story says, the “inherent dignity” of human beings. Hmmm, “inherent dignity” … well, that’s what the fight over abortion is about, right? Do the unborn offspring of human beings count as human beings, and do they deserve the dignity of human beings?

Joe Biden says … Well, he doesn’t say much these days. But his official policy positions do the work for him. The answer is No.

Nor is abortion the only indicator about Biden the Catholic.

Biden has expressed support for “transitioning” 8-year-olds from the gender that corresponds to their biological sex to another gender. That departs not just from ancient Church teachings but also from Pope Francis.

The same politician who has described how inspired he is by nuns wants to hound the Little Sisters of the Poor until they either give up running nursing homes for poor people or violate their consciences by providing health insurance coverage for contraception for their employees.

Now, nothing says that a president of the United States is bound to abide by Roman Catholic social teaching or Roman Catholic moral teaching – or any other Roman Catholic teaching, for that matter. It’s a free country, as they say – and may be for yet a while longer.

What he doesn’t get to do, though, is appropriate Roman Catholic language for his un-Roman Catholic actions.

By all means, keep going to church, Joe. Keep praying. Say one for me, if you think of it.

But spare us about how you much you cherish being a Catholic.