Biden vs Bishops: Say It Ain’t So, Joe

WASHINGTON (RNS) In a rare public rebuke, Catholic bishops chided Vice President Joe Biden for saying during Thursday’s vice-presidential debate that Catholic hospitals and institutions will not be forced to provide contraception coverage to employees.



Without mentioning Biden by name, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the “inaccurate” statement “made during the Vice Presidential debate” was “not a fact.”

Biden and GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan are both Catholic.

During Thursday’s debate, Biden said “No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact.”

Biden also said that there is no “assault on the Catholic Church.” Ryan responded, “Why would they keep suing you?”

More than 35 suits have been filed against the Obama administration’s plan to require employers to provide no-cost contraception coverage to employees. Religious employers like churches are exempt from those rules, while affiliated institutions – hospitals, universities and others – that serve the general public are not. (Read more here.)


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  • Kathleen

    Why don’t they mention Biden by name? What could possibly be the problem with that?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I don’t want to see the Church drug down into the pits of partisan politics. I am guessing, but I think that maybe the bishops feel the same way.

  • JessicaHof

    If the trumpet gives an uncertain sound? We know who the Cardinal meant, so why now just say so?

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I think the Cardinal was using prudential judgement by phrasing this the way he did. As you say, we know (and Vice President Biden knows) who the Cardinal meant.

  • Teresa Rice

    Would mentioning Biden’s name really mean that bishops would be getting into partisan politics? Wouldn’t that be the bishops correcting one of their flock? We already know who the bishops were correcting so I don’t see the big deal or why that would constitute them getting into partisan politics.

    That’s like sorry to say this but Cardinal Wuerl holding a Synod against secularism but at the same time he refuses to correct one of his flock via by denying her Communion (Pelosi). I just think there’s a lack of credibility there. I am pleased for the most part this time but it just irks me that a good portion of the time bishops/cardinals/priests refuse to correct their flock, the ones causing public scandal, out of weakness or for some reason or another.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      I don’t know Teresa, I was just taking a guess at their motivations for wording it the way they did. To be honest, I am very proud of them for speaking out.

      • Teresa Rice

        I get what you are saying Rebecca but regardless of what the bishops say or how they respond to a political debate they are going to get accused by some as being partisan politically. I guess all I am saying is why worry about what the secular world thinks of you when they are clueless about our Catholic faith. The secular world is unfriendly to the Church regardless of how innocuous the statement by the bishops is. God Bless.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          That’s true Teresa. The only way Christians can make the secular world happy is if we cease to exist. Otherwise, they’ll attack us.

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