CNA Staff, Nov 17, 2020 / 01:40 pm (CNA).- The president of the U.S. bishops’ conference has announced the creation of a bishops’ working group to prepare for a Biden presidency.
Archbishop Jose Gomez told bishops Tuesday that a future President Biden, as a Catholic, would present unique challenges for the Church in the United States, especially regarding Biden policy positions at odds with Catholic doctrine.
“For only the second time, we are anticipating a transition to a president who professes the Catholic faith. This presents certain opportunities but also certain challenges,” Gomez said at the close of the USCCB Fall General Assembly on Nov. 17.
The archbishop said the bishops face “a unique moment in the history of the Church in this country.”
“The president-elect has given us reason to believe that his faith commitments will move him to support some good policies. This includes policies of immigration reform, refugees and the poor, and against racism, the death penalty, and climate change.”
“He has also given us reason to believe that he will support policies that are against some fundamental values that we hold dear as Catholics. These policies include: the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and the preservation of Roe vs. Wade. Both of these policies undermine our preeminent priority of the elimination of abortion,” said Gomez.
Biden, a former two-term vice-president under Barack Obama and a career senator, maintained a position on abortion regarded by Democrats as moderate for most of his political career. Biden supported the Hyde Ammendment, which bans federal tax dollars from funding abortions, while also supporting the premise of legal abortion.
But during the 2019 Democratic primary campaign, Biden dropped his long-held positions on abortion and called for the codifcation of Roe v. Wade in federal law, which would essentially preclude any state limitations on abortion at any point in pregnancy.
Gomez also told the bishops that Biden has signalled his support for “the restoration of the HHS mandate, the passage of the Equality Act, and the unequal treatment of Catholic schools.”
The HHS contraceptive mandate, initiated under the Obama Administration, required employers to supply coverage for contraception, including abortifacient drugs and sterilizations, under their healthcare plans. Only narrow exemptions were granted for religious groups and conscientiously objecting employers, resulting in a series of legal battles for groups including Catholic universities and the Little Sisters of the Poor.
The Trump Administration broadened religious freedom and conscience protections in the policy, but Biden has committed to reversing those protections.
The Equality Act, which stalled during the last legislative session, would add anti-discrimination protections for sexual orientation and gender identity to existing protections for race, color, national origin, sex, disability and religion. It has been consistently opposed by the U.S. bishops, who have warned it could be used to compel Cahtolic schools and institutions to, for example, grant males access to female bathrooms and changing facilities.
“These policies pose a serious threat to the common good, whenever any politician supports them. We have long opposed these policies strongly, and we will continue to do so.”
“But when politicians who profess the Catholic faith support them, there are additional problems. Among other things, it creates confusion among the faithful about what the Church actually teaches on these questions.”
Biden made his Catholic faith a centerpiece of his election campaign, releasing several videos in which he discussed his religion. Biden also quoted Pope Francis during the closing days of the campaign, despite the pope’s frequent and absolute condemnation of abortion.
“This is a difficult and complex situation,” Gomez told the bishops. “In order to help us to navigate it, [the conference] will appoint a working group, chaired by Archbishop Vigneron and consisting of the chairmen of the committees responsible for the policy areas at stake, as well as the committee on doctrine and communications.”
Gomez also noted that, although Biden’s public Catholicsm and opposition to core Catholic priorities and values was a unique problem for the bishops, a committee like to the one he was creating is not completely novel.
The creation and work of the committee “follows the precedent of four years ago, when Cardinal DiNardo – then president of the conference – similarly faced a transition to a new administration threating grave and imminent harm on critical issues,” Gomez said.
“Then as now, committees already existed to address those issues, and the goal was to emphasize our priorities and enhance collaboration.”
The U.S. bishops’ conference issued Nov. 7 a statement congratulating Biden and running mate Kamala Harris on their projected victory in the presidential election. The statement prompted pushback from Catholics who said it was issued prematurely, given that the Trump campaign has filed numerous legal challenges to election results, and by those who said the statement did not challenge Biden on his policies in support of legal protection and federal funding for abortion.
On Monday, Gomez said the congratulations was pro forma for the bishops’ conference; his remarks Tuesday indicated a shift in rhetoric from the conference.
Gomez said additional details regarding the working group would be released shortly after the conclusion of the bishops’ meeting, which adjourned into executive session shortly after the archbishop concluded his remarks.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!
Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.
Bishops… operating like a political special interest group instead of shepherds. Shame. Focus on the spiritual welfare of your flocks. The time for saying something about Biden was before the election. Now they speak? Just shut your traps.
And, to paraphrase, “Hey, look at all these good things he’s saying he’ll deal with, including the chimera that is climate change, so hey, why worry about the murder of babies and the assaults on our religious freedom that he has promised. And after all, the execution some 1500 convicted criminals since the 1970’s is so much worse that the 61 million innocent babies aborted since then.”
The following come to mind:
“You’ve have made your bed …”
Too little, too late
Yup. Our feckless bishops love to be loved by Caesar and seek to please him.
Such is the political class of the American Catholic Church.
Don’t worry, Biden will continue to waffle on what he stands for.
That is because he only stands for those issues that he told to promote.
What a joke the USCCB and Gomez are! Biden does not profess as a Catholic! They should be outraged that Biden has policies totally against the beliefs of our faith! Thank God for those brave priests and bishops who have condemned this right from the beginning!
I believe that there was only one bishop, Bishop Strickland of Texas, who did that. Yes, the USCCB and Gomez are indeed a joke.
This is a difficult and complex situation.”
Wrong – It’s not difficult at all and it is not complex. Even the ex-football coach at Notre Dame knows that much, calling Joe Biden a CINO – Catholic In Name Only.
I find it impossible to take the Archbishop seriously, although I must admit that I haven’t really tried.
Let me put it this way – would you confess your sins to this man?
Excellent question. I think the ex-football coach at Notre Dame would probably call him an Archbishop in Name Only.
A case of “locking the stable gate after the horses have bolted”; that is, making such a statement after the election is over and congratulating the putative President.
The USCCB practically campaigned for Joe Biden in their silence about his position on abortion. They have also been totally silent for the past four years about the public hatred constantly expressed towards President Trump. And now we are supposed to believe they will form a committee for proper responses. Please spare us the hypocrisy.
The hypocrisy of the USCCB is exceeded only by its mendacity, as all of us in this country have witnessed for the past 35 years.
I for one would love to hear what st Thomas More would say about these bishops without chests! Or for that matter, bishop Fulton sheen. Pray we must, for the salvation of their souls. The
I posted a comment early this morning that called Gomez’s statement for the falsehood that it was, based on contemporaneous Biden releases to the AP and Washington Post that directly contradicted Gomez. The comment was suppressed. Yet as the close of the day today the USCCB has completely reversed Gomez’s position:
I will stop there and let readers draw their own conclusions.
C’mon man!!! Stop pussyfooting and speak clearly or don’t speak at all. Persistent public scandal that denies the teaching of the Church about killing the innocent (etc.) is clear evidence of a person who no longer enjoys The Faith. He is the one who has made his stance public so at least have the courage to help him by telling him so publicly. Otherwise the Eucharist is publicly shamed by those who are charged with human defense.
The Bishops have had too little to say about the last few DECADES of politics. They waited far to long to say anything supportive of Trump this last election. Further they should have doubled down and said those Catholics who support the candidates who are proponents of infanticide are barred from communion. In fact the Bishops generally appear to lack the spine to reprimand ANYONE for any sin at all, for fear of offending them. A lot of us are afraid that the Bishops will cave yet again to more church closings by the govt as some covid rates start to rise. This is an obvious danger in blue state run by democrats, to whom religion is a joke for the benighted. The church in Manhattan is taking NY to court to open more fully. Too little, too late. Its dubious the DEM appointed judges will support them. We are past the time for this. Its time for the Bishops to TELL (not ask or plead) the power mad blue state DEMs that the churches WILL re-open, with their approval or not. Continue with social distance seating inside and masks. But otherwise, the govt should be informed to butt OUT of church business. No one is being forced to attend church and what happens there is a matter of constitutional rights. Say that they will NOT shut nor will they pay any fines. The Bishops need to fire this warning shot NOW before any of these dim DEM bulbs go back to thinking they will have the Bishop’s compliance yet again in helping to suppress the church. Further, many Biden policies are NOT helpful to average citizens. Nor is it wise of the Bishops to attempt to cherry pick political ideas to support. NONE of us are interested in more illegals coming here, irrespective of skin color. Nor do they have any moral right to do so. Not everyone wants to cope with unreliable and expensive wind and solar power as an antidote to global warming, nor do we support the loss of hundreds of thousands of oil industry related jobs. The Bishops need to stop meddling in politics that many of their folks do not support, and start making sure their folks can go to church!!
The first comment by Kevin T says it all. Too little, too late, bishops. The time to organize committees was before the election to instruct the faithful on how best to vote. Couldn’t do that…so now they’ll aim for damage control and hope for the best to deal with the “unique challenges.”
If every Bishop denied Holy Communion to Biden that would be the Best. Teaching. Moment. Ever.
I’m just a dumbS**t Marine Corps Veteran AND a parish priest, so I naturally struggle with “getting er done” and so called diplomacy. The thing is, you can’t be a diplomat with the devil. To be clear, I am not saying Biden is the devil incarnate. I am saying that he clearly professes proudly to be Catholic while rejecting some very weighty Church teaching.
Biden’s willful heterodoxy is more dangerous than pagan that is mistake but sincerely on a quest for the truth. The former rejects the truth he knows, while the latter is seeking for the truth in good faith.
Any illusion of working amicably with the yet to be formally elected Biden and his potential administration is utter folly. Biden’s rejection of Church authority is loudly demonstrated by his pro abortion stance, other human dignity issues notwithstanding.
The USCCB needs to STOP trying to make deals with the devil.
The USCCB needs to Biden, Pelosi and their likes to task. Their respective ordinaries should issue form letters warning NO HOLY COMMUION unless they repent, and follow through accordingly.
Finally! A “shepherd” that has the courage to speak up!
Biden’s relationship to his Catholic faith is like the wayward alcoholic husband who hangs out at the tavern nightly but reminds his wife regularly that at least he doesn’t cheat on her and still has a day job.