A Telling Moment during the Vice Presidential Debate: Joe Biden’s View of Catholicism and Abortion

VP Joe Biden Photo credit: richiec on Flickr

A question of faith and priorities.

It seems that the economy has taken one of the most, if not the most, noticeable roles in the campaigning process. During the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney did make a pleasant statement suggesting pro-life values, but the issue of abortion did not actually come up.

This was not the case in Thursday night’s vice presidential debate, between Vice President Joe Biden and Congressman and vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan. Both men are Catholics, and both professed to take their faiths seriously during the debate.

The question regarding faith and abortion was asked during the end of the night. And as soon as the moderator, Martha Raddatz, said the following, I had a feeling that we were actually going to see the topic of abortion take center stage:

RADDATZ: I want to move on, and I want to return home for these last few questions. This debate is, indeed, historic. We have two Catholic candidates, first time, on a stage such as this.

Politico conveniently has a transcript of the debate. One may be able to see the emotion behind such a question and the responses, but to really get a sense of it, there is a video provided as well as the text transcript. The rest of Raddatz’s question is as follows:

… And I would like to ask you both to tell me what role your religion has played in your own personal views on abortion. Please talk about how you came to that decision. Talk about how your religion played a part in that. And, please, this is such an emotional issue for so many people in this country…

RYAN: Sure.

RADDATZ: … please talk personally about this, if you could. Congressman Ryan?

My friend and I were beyond excited and shocked that we actually jumped up, screamed, and hugged each other. I was on edge in anticipation and excitement to hear what the candidates would actually say, and their points were interesting. I found it especially touching how Paul Ryan’s daughter has the nickname “Liza Bean,” just like my own sister does. Kristi Burton Brown just recently published an article here on Live Action News with her own thoughts on the debate, and she summed up the statements made by the two men well.

I found the connection between abortion and faith very fitting. As stressed in this article, and by the moderator, both men are Catholic. I have stated in a previous article that in order for you to be truly Christian, you must be pro-life. And, in analyzing a statement from the pope, Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro seems to agree, based on how a LifeSiteNews article puts forth his statements:

According to Human Life International Rome Director, Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, the comments are very relevant to the current situation in the Catholic Church. Msgr. Barreiro, who holds a doctorate in Dogmatic theology, told LifeSiteNews that “for those Catholics who cannot bring themselves to believe the formal teachings of the Church on life and family matters it would be more honest to leave the Church rather than betraying Her.”

Msgr. Barriero noted that submission of will and intellect is required when it comes to the official teachings of the Church, rather than prudential opinions. “For example,” he said, “it is required for the teaching on abortion, but there can be legitimate differences of opinion among Catholics on how to take care of the poor.”

Biden seems to personally be pro-life, as his Church tells him to be. So in being personally pro-life, one can say that he almost makes the mark, sort of. But the vice president fails to truly live out his faith in a full and complete way. See so for yourself based on his own words:

… Life begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews, and I just refuse to impose that on others, unlike my friend here, the – the congressman. I – I do not believe that we have a right to tell other people that — women they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor. In my view and the Supreme Court, I’m not going to interfere with that.

As Kristi wrote in another article, you cannot be “personally pro-life.” Yet that is exactly what Joe Biden is doing. In fact, if one takes out the first two sentences of his statement, one would think that Joe Biden is more pro-choice. This is a man who says that “[l]ife begins at conception in the church’s judgment. I accept it[.]” There should be nothing to say after “I accept it.” If he can accept it only in his personal life, then it seems that the vice president cannot truly accept it. It is also telling when, a few sentences later, he makes the case that he can’t tell “women they can’t control their body.” One begins to wonder: does the issue of abortion for Joe Biden have more to do with how “life begins at conception” or with not being able to tell “women they can’t control their body”?

Joe Biden made what may have started off sounding like a nice statement about how “[his] religion defines who [he is], and [he’s] been a practicing Catholic [his] whole life.” Perhaps Biden has been one in his own mind, but a ban from speaking at Catholic schools and a call not to take Communion show that Joe Biden is the wrong kind of definition of what a practicing Catholic is really all about.

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