Monday, Sept. 8, 2008
To Catholics of the Archdiocese of Denver:
When Catholics serve on the national stage, their actions and words impact the faith of Catholics
around the country. As a result, they open themselves to legitimate scrutiny by local Catholics and
local bishops on matters of Catholic belief. In 2008, although NBC probably didn't intend it, Meet the
Presshas become a national window on the flawed moral reasoning of some Catholic public servants.
On August 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, describing herself as an ardent, practicing
Catholic, misrepresented the overwhelming body of Catholic teaching against abortion to the show's
nationwide audience, while defending her "pro-choice" abortion views. On September 7, Sen. Joseph
Biden compounded the problem to the same Meet the Pressaudience.
Sen. Biden is a man of distinguished public service. That doesn't excuse poor logic or bad facts.
Asked when life begins, Sen. Biden said that, "it's a personal and private issue." But in reality, mod-
ern biology knows exactlywhen human life begins: at the moment of conception. Religion has noth-
ing to do with it. People might argue when human "personhood" begins - though that leads public
policy in very dangerous directions - but no one can any longer claim that the beginning of life is a
matter of religious opinion.
Sen. Biden also confused the nature of pluralism. Real pluralism thriveson healthy, non-violent dis-
agreement; it requiresan environment where people of conviction will struggle respectfully but vigor-
ously to advance their beliefs. In his interview, the senator observed that other people with strong
religious views disagree with the Catholic approach to abortion. It's certainly true that we need to
acknowledge the views of other people and compromise whenever possible - but not at the expense
of a developing child's right to life. Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing
policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is
always, grievously wrong. If, as Sen. Biden said, "I'm prepared as a matter of faith[emphasis
added] to accept that life begins at the moment of conception," then he is not merely wrong about
the science of new life; he also fails to defend the innocent life he already knows is there.
As the senator said in his interview, he has opposed public funding for abortions. To his great credit,
he also backed a successful ban on partial-birth abortions. But his strong support for the 1973
Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wadeand the false "right" to abortion it enshrines, can't be excused
by any serious Catholic. Support for Roe and the "right to choose" an abortion simply masks what
abortion is, and what abortion does. Roeis bad law. As long as it stands, it prevents returning the
abortion issue to the states where it belongs, so that the American people can decide its future
through fair debate and legislation.
In his Meet the Press interview, Sen. Biden used a morally exhausted argument that American
Catholics have been hearing for 40 years: i.e., that Catholics can't "impose" their religiously based
views on the rest of the country. But resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious
opinion. And the senator knows very well as a lawmaker that all lawinvolves the imposition of some
people's convictions on everyone else. That is the nature of the law. American Catholics have
allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing
unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their "pro-choice" beliefs on American society
without any remorse for decades.
If we claim to be Catholic, then American Catholics, including public officials who describe themselves
as Catholic, need to act accordingly. We need to put an end to Roeand the industry of permissive
abortion it enables. Otherwise all of us - from senators and members of Congress, to Catholic
laypeople in the pews - fail not only as believers and disciples, but also as citizens.
+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver
+James D. Conley
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver
Hooray for the Bishops of Denver!
What would this country be like if everyone who claimed to believe abortion was wrong actually acted that way and didn't put the issue of the death of 3600 innocent American lives PER DAY as a minor issue? Who would say their own life and existence was less important than the economy or the environment or government-run health care? Yet how many people claim such issues are more important than the innocent life lost every 24 seconds
Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Lori also spoke out correcting VP candidate Biden!
It's been so long since I've been so proud of my bishops!!!