Bishops must address Biden’s policies that contradict Church teaching, theologians say

By Matt Hadro for CNA

President Biden reveals his rosary beads during a March 1, 2021 virtual meeting with Mexico’s President López Obrador. (The White House/YouTube)

Washington D.C., Jun 15, 2021 / 15:35 pm (CNA).

President Joe Biden has advanced policies contrary to Church teaching on life, marriage, and sexuality – and bishops have a duty to address this contradiction, theologians said this week.

Regarding the legitimacy of political opinions in a democracy, “Catholics are free to have these various opinions – as long as they don’t counter moral law, natural law, and faith,” Monsignor Charles Mangan of the Diocese of Sioux Falls told CNA on Tuesday.

“Authentic freedom,” he added, does not mean that Catholic voters and politicians can hold any opinion they want. Rather, it means “we are free in Christ, and we see the Church’s teaching as not a burden, but as something that frees us to embrace what is true,” he added.

He stressed the need for a well-formed conscience. “Conscience does not fall out of the sky. It has to be informed. It has to be taught. It has to be nurtured and matured,” he said.

Speaking with CNA ahead of the U.S. bishops’ virtual meeting which begins on Wednesday, Dr. Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at the Catholic University of America, said the bishops must be clear about where Biden’s administration runs afoul of Church teaching.

“It’s actually not Biden on trial right now, but the bishops,” Pecknold said. He noted that “Biden is almost a perfect pro-abort politician, and yet he claims to be a devout Catholic. The bishops must make a clear statement about precisely that contradiction.”

Biden, who is just the second Catholic president in U.S. history, has pushed for taxpayer-funded abortion while his administration seeks to deregulate the abortion pill regimen and fund international pro-abortion groups.

On the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement supporting Roe and stating their intent to codify it in law.

Days later, Biden on January 28 announced a series of executive actions that enabled funding of international pro-abortion groups and supported abortion as an international right.

Biden repealed the Mexico City Policy, an executive policy that bars U.S. funding of foreign NGOs that provide or promote abortions. His administration withdrew from the Geneva Consensus Declaration, a joint statement of the United States and 31 other countries saying there is no international right to abortion.

In domestic abortion policy, Biden moved to allow for federal funding of elective abortions by introducing his budget request for the 2022 fiscal year without the Hyde amendment. That policy, enacted in law since 1976 as a rider to budget bills, prohibited federal funding of most elective abortions in Medicaid.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also deregulated the abortion pill regimen, allowing for it to be prescribed and dispensed remotely during the pandemic instead of in-person, as previously required. Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, has expressed interest in making that rule-change permanent.

Biden’s administration is also moving to allow funding of domestic abortion providers or pro-abortion groups through the Title X program.

While the program was set up in 1970 with express prohibitions against funding of abortion as a method of family planning, the Clinton administration required recipients to provide abortion referrals and counseling upon request.

That 2000 policy stood in place until the Trump administration in 2019 prohibited recipients from referring for abortions or being co-located with abortion clinics, in an attempt to separate taxpayer funding from abortion-related services altogether. Planned Parenthood in 2019 announced it was withdrawing from the program rather than complying with the new requirements.

The Department of Health and Human Services in April proposed to restore the Clinton-era rules for the program, once again allowing abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood to participate.

Biden’s administration has also lifted a moratorium on federally-funded research using fetal tissue derived from elective abortions. The Trump administration in 2019 halted such research at federal facilities, and required other federally-funded research proposals at non-government facilities to undergo review by a federal ethics advisory board. In April, HHS lifted the moratorium and removed the requirement for review by the ethics advisory board.

Meanwhile, Biden has expressed support for LGBT and transgender issues, and his administration has worked to require accommodation for these causes – despite religious or conscientious objections.

On his first day in office on January 20, Biden issued a sweeping executive order redefining sex discrimination. He stated his administration’s policy to uphold sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes under federal civil rights law, extending to them the same protections as race in public accommodations.

“Children should be able to learn without worrying about whether they will be denied access to the restroom, the locker room, or school sports,” Biden stated.

Biden’s administration began implementing the order in a number of areas, including housing, education, and health care.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has said that male students identifying as transgender females have a right to compete in women’s athletics based on their gender identity.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has weakened protections for women’s shelters, withdrawing a proposed rule that would have allowed them to accept only women clients instead of biological males identifying as transgender females. A Missouri Christian college also sued the administration over its interpretation of sex discrimination, saying that their policy of sex-specific dormitory housing would be at risk.

In May, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a notice that legal experts warned would require doctors and hospitals to provide gender-transition procedures.

A coalition of Catholic doctors and hospitals had already sued the government over the Obama administration’s 2016 transgender mandate. While a federal district court granted some plaintiffs permanent injunctive relief from the mandate, the Biden administration fought to appeal that case to a higher court.

In foreign policy, U.S. embassies have also been permitted to display the LGBT Pride flag during “Pride season.”

Biden also supports the Equality Act, sweeping legislation that would require acknowledgment of sexual orientation and gender identity in public accommodations. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops warned that the bill would “punish” objecting religious groups, and could require church halls to host pro-LGBT events, or women’s locker rooms and shelters to accept biological males.

“The big picture is that America seems only capable of electing Gallicans, Catholic presidents who don’t actually believe they should follow the Church’s teaching but should just follow their own national preferences,” Pecknold said.

“And president Biden has proved himself to be someone who not only doesn’t agree with Church teaching,” he said, “but advances and promotes” policies that contradict Church teaching.

“And he does it in an obstinate refusal of any correction from any bishop, including the pope,” he said.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a doctrinal note in 2002 on participation of Catholics in political life. The document stressed the need for Catholics to adhere to Church teaching, especially on grave issues such as abortion and euthanasia.

Cardinal Luis Ladaria, prefect of the CDF, cited the note in his letter to the U.S. bishops in May on the matter of Communion for Catholic public officials who support permissive legislation on grave evils.

Monsignor Mangan quoted from the 2002 document on the importance of Catholics upholding the Church’s teaching on life. The 2002 document had a lot to do with “the participation of the laity in terms of voting,” he said.

Democracy “succeeds only to the extent that it is based on a correct understanding of the human person,” the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated. “Catholic involvement in political life cannot compromise on this principle, for otherwise the witness of the Christian faith in the world, as well as the unity and interior coherence of the faithful, would be non-existent.”

“That word ‘coherence’ is used here,” Monsignor Mangan said, alluding to the recent statements by bishops on “Eucharistic coherence.” The term is “speaking about the unity and interior coherence of the faithful,” he said.

Regarding the authority of a local ordinary in his diocese, Mangan emphasized the duty of a bishop “to teach, to proclaim, to sanctify, and to safeguard.”

“Safeguarding has a place. To safeguard the faith, to safeguard the dignity of human life, and the reverence due to the sacraments, I think that has a real definite place,” he said.

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  1. Christ created a church to teach the people right and wrong. Why aren’t the bishops using their resources to triple or quadruple the enrollment of God’s church. Playing politics with a man-made government is destroying the church. I enjoy listening to the teaching’s of Christ. I find our man-made government is full of corruption and self-serving politicians—–republicans and democrats. Church leaders must lead and stop playing politics.

    • The teachings you refer to should also make you ‘squirm in your seat,’ when you realize He may be referring to your flaws. Churches have gotten away from making you feel guilty to making you feel happy.

      There are few fire and brimstone sermons these days.

      • Pope Benedict had something timely to say about “feel[ing] guilty: “I have been absolutely certain that there is something wrong with the theory of the justifying force of the subjective conscience . . . Hitler may have had none (guilt feelings); nor may Himmler or Stalin. Mafia bosses may have none, but it is more likely that they have merely suppressed their awareness of the skeletons in their closets. And the aborted [!] guilt feelings . . . Everyone needs guilt feelings” (Values in a Time of Upheaval, 2006).

  2. US Bishops refuse to condemn US politicians like Biden who promote gender ideology and abortion for this primary reason: Most of them are content to live the episcopal high life in their multi-million dollar metropolitan mansions, picking out curtains and spending Church endowments on their lifestyles, and they dare not risk their contentment over something so “foolish” as imitating the Good Shepherd, and fighting against wolves that prey on the flock of Christ. They have cut a deal with the wolves, and they defer to the wolf pack.

    They have chosen “the mind of McCarrick” over “the mind of Christ.”

  3. Eucharistic coherence cures PERSONAL INCOHERENCE….OT—“I hate the DOUBLE-MINDED, but I love your law” (Psalm 119:113); NT—“He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:8).

    St. Augustine—
    “For this very thing [the Word] did I sigh, BOUND as I was, not by another’s irons but by MY OWN IRON WILL. The enemy had control of my will, and out of it he fashioned a chain and fettered me with it” (Confessions, Bk. 8, Ch. 5:10).
    “It is no monstrous thing partly to will a thing and partly not to will it, but it is a SICKNESS IN THE MIND. Although it is supported by truth, it does not wholly rise up, since it is heavily encumbered by habit” (ibid. Bk. 8, Ch. 9:21).

    “But they [talkers and seducers] wish to be light, not in the Lord, but in themselves, and THEY THINK the soul’s nature to be that which is God. Thus they have tuned back farther from you, from you who are ‘the true light which enlightens every man that comes into the world’ [Jn 1:9]” (ibid., Bk. 8, Ch. 10:22).

    “Therefore, it [the whole will of the soul] is rent asunder by grievous hurt as long as it prefers the first [the good] because of its truth but does not put away the other [the evil] because of HABIT” (ibid., Bk. 8, Ch. 10:24).

  4. Monsignor Mangan is correct. The bishops are at a pivotal point in Church history. If they fail to teach morality and call out those who oppose it, the Church loses what credibility She has left after the sexual abuse scandal. Any person who publicly promotes immoral policies such as abortion, same-sex “marriage,” gender fluidity, or any other immoral practices should never call themselves “devout Catholics” or present themselves for Communion. Bishops, do your jobs!

  5. As much as many would wish, this issue is NOT going to go away.

    Notre Dame withdrew its invitation for Biden to speak at commencement, reportedly because a large number of ND alumni, aka prosperous donors, protested loudly. I forget the reasoning in the official announcements from both sides, but it was clearly face-saving.
    Recently Biden was unable to attend Mass in Rome celebrated by the Pope, again I forget the announcement explaining why, but the overall effect was to AVOID the issue of the Pope’s giving Communion – or refusing to do so – to Biden.
    The ongoing scandal of so-called ‘catholics’ (small c) receiving Communion is like a cat out of the bag – it’s out, it is NOT going to go away, and it CANNOT be reversed.

    • It certainly cannot and will not be reversed by the sodo-clericalist mafiosi of the USCCB and their collaborators in the idolatrous Bergoglian-personality cult.

  6. Too many bishops are little better than ecclesial politicians and bureaucrats. Willingness to give the Eucharist to pro-abortion politicians and bureaucrats appears, for the most part, to be simply them looking out for and covering for one of the own. Birds of a feather.

  7. What we have is needed discussion, although Cardinal Ladaria’s premises of consensus and final judgment left with the local ordinary is a script for a ship of fools. Navigation is intended to arrive, here Ladaria’s precepts insure continued floundering at sea over Eucharistic coherence. We know the faith, what the Church teaches and the responsibility of bishops to defend the truth as made clear by Msgr Mangan. The goal of any discussion then must be to convince dissenting bishops who wish to support Pres Biden’s seeming intransigent promotion of infanticide and sexual depravity. As Archbishop Thomas Olmsted exhorted, Such a position must be gravely sinful! We were not commissioned as priests, especially as bishops to practice moral theology by arbitration and consensus. That is precisely the false gambit proposed by the CDF prefect and silently approved by Pope Francis. It’s Francis’ primary obligation to direct, and to defend Apostolic Tradition. Therein, and nowhere else lies the divinely instituted magisterial defense of Christ’s revelation. Faithful bishops must act decisively and excommunicate if there is no change in Biden’s intransigence. Then what will be the rationale against, and who can in good faith oppose it?

    • Dear Fr. Morello:

      You have hit the nail on the head by calling the current Church Hierarchy “a ship of fools.”

      I certainly don’t presume you agree with my following comments (which are very strong words), but I assert them here, because I believe it in my heart and mind to be the absolute truth: most of these men who are Bishops have long ago thrown Christ overboard to cling to frauds like McCarrick (because McCarrick’s “career” is the very goal they aspire to). And that goes doubly so for many of the so-called or self-styled “conservatives” and “moderates” who are nothing more than traitors to the Gospel and submissive to only Lord: The ZEITGEIST.

    • P.Biden will keep going to the churches where the pastors will give him communion. He doesn’t seem to be smart enough to know he is committing sin. We need to keep praying for his conversion, and the conversion of the prelates who should know better.God help us.

    • A QUESTION: Or, is Ladaria simply repeating that the USCCB as a collective administrative body (only) has no authority to override individual bishops on matters of the perennial and authentic magisterium, unless (a) the voted position is unanimous (redundant!) or unless, (b) with a substantial (two-thirds) vote, it is referred to the universal Church for thumbs up or down –”the ‘recognitio’ of the Apostolic See” (Pope John Paul II, Apostolos Suos, On the Theological and Juridical Nature of Episcopal Conferences, July 23, 1998, nn. 20,21,22,23,24).

      The chandeliered USCCB is a hollow side-show to individual bishops as the direct and personal successors to the Apostles. Its pretense as a sort of (secular) boardroom is being outed by the need now to simply stand aside to whatever is left of our sacramental language, i.e., “Eucharistic coherence” is to be recognized on its own unencumbered merits.

      Isn’t it time for USCCB members to step up (?) to “the inalienable responsibility of each Bishop in relation to the universal Church and to his particular Church” (AS, n. 24, citing the Synod of Bishops of 1985, Final Report, II, C). The voted position by the USCCB might do well enough to simply recall unanimously (!), in these seventeen words, this irreducible reality and personal obligation and then, following the second half of Ladaria’s guidance, to frame what each Bishop should prudently act upon in his diocese—this WITHOUT defaulting to any well-embedded and two-faced script as under long-standing neglect, or now as under the anti-bishop Biden and his collared choir.

  8. The American Bishops are cowards as are, it seems, most Bishops, Francis included. They sell the Truth to the lowest bidder to preserve their power and greed. When confronted with the Truth they equivocate and attempt to explain it away.

    There was a time when Bishops (and priests) were concerned with the salvation of souls and proclaiming the Truth, no matter the personal cost. Those days are gone. Preaching Truth to power is political suicide that will very likely mean loss of power, money, and position. Better to lose the world than one’s immortal soul. As Saint Athanasius told those gathered at the Council of Nicaea, “The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of bishops” [and priests].

  9. Folks,

    St. John the Baptist had his head chopped off for merely calling out King Herod for having an adulterous relationship with his brother’s wife. Yes, the King actually cut off his head for that. We all know the story and intrigue behind St. John’s decapitation. Fast forward 2000 years and it’s instructive to see what’s happening today. Suffice it to say, our beloved Lord reminded His first Apostles that, “If they do this to the Master, then His servants can expect to be treated the same, as well”. Also, our Beloved Lord said that “To those who have been given much, much more is expected”. In my very uneducated and simple and humble opinion, these examples of the Life of Christ are all that the Bishops should consider when thinking about withholding Holy Communion to souls who believe that killing babies in the womb still allows you to be a part of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

    As a man who raised six children, there were moments where I had to naturally correct my children over this or that. If one of my children’s actions was severely wrong, then it was incumbent upon me to be more corrective in disciplining the son or daughter in need of that. Yes, I had to be more attentive and solicitous of that child so as to maintain the ONENESS,PEACE AND HARMONY of our family life. My brothers and sisters in Jesus, it’s no different of the Apostles of our day to do that which is required to maintain the Oneness of our Catholic Faith. Our Blessed Lord set the perfect examples for his Apostles to take care of souls who were bringing about conflict and division.

  10. What’s the big flap? There are a couple hands-full of people on this very site who could develop a teaching document in a few days.

    The spoiled apples in the bishop’s cart are tainting this entire endeavor.
    The Church Suffering can also be applied to the Church on earth now, pain inflicted by the bad actors. They are supposed to be successors of the Apostles, yet they are apparently drumming for a different entity.

  11. It was pointless of Biden to show his rosary while on virtual dialog with Andrés Manuel López-Obrador, President of Mexico. AMLO is not Catholic, he is Protestant Evangelical, and meets with Protestant Evangelical pastors regularly. Chalk this a success to US Protestant missionaries south of the border since the time of Benito Juárez, a liberal politician, and Mason, also President of México in the mid-nineteenth century, who invited ‘gringo’ protestant missionaries to do their preaching over there to beak the Catholic hold of the country. Apparently, it has paid off finally, after some 150 years, exceedingly well with México now 17% Protestant or Mormon, in spite of all efforts the Mexican hierarchy and of Pope John Paul II who, old and sick, traveled in the last decade of the twentierh century to Mexico to canonize an indigenous native, Juan Diego, associated with the Marianophany of 1531 near Mexico City. Not even he nor the Virgin of Guadalupe-Tonantzin, patron saint of Mexico, can turn back the tide of apostasy.

  12. He is presently vying with Barack Obama for the coveted title of ‘most pro-abortion president in history’, he has come out publicly for same-sex ‘marriage’, going so far as to officiate at one not long after after getting the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame, and the list goes on and on.

    One of his favorite lines through the years has been that he personally opposes abortion but is loath to impose his beliefs on others, which is ok, but I for one would like to see him DEFEND them – just once.

    I’ve been waiting for years.

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