Joe Biden is Not a Heretic

Joe Biden is Not a Heretic February 13, 2021

Something Catholics tend to do quite frequently in online discourse  is read a headline of an article and not the article itself.

They then make a judgement, reach a verdict and pronounce a sentence and then proceed to carry it out. These internet warriors think their the Catholic Judge Dredd.

This was recently done to Fr. Casey Cole which you can read about In Defence of Father Casey Cole.

So I ask readers to actually read all the way through so we don’t end up with comments like..

Again pathetic patheos fools.
Calling BS on the sanctimonious hypocrisy of this author’s pathetic pontification.
This is one of the many leftist modernists who write for this website. Not to be trusted.

There is a good overall point in this post, so keep reading and find out why Joe Biden is NOT A HERETIC.

The article rewards close reading. It is not a defense, but a call for understanding precise terms used by the Church.

One of the joys of the internet and especially Facebook, is that one comes across compelling statements said by other people about issues that you only wish you could find the words to express the very same idea or sentiment. One person for me (and lots of other people) is Deacon Steven D. Greydanus.

Deacon Steve is mostly known for his insightful movie reviews given from a Catholic perspective at Decent Films – SDG Reviews.

He recently just put out SDG’s top films, 2000 – 2020

In 2020, after two decades of writing regularly about movies, I took a semi-sabbatical (coinciding, of course, with the coronavirus pandemic and the shuttering of movie theaters) and focused on other things.

While I saw a lot of films last year (and voted in a number of year-end awards) — and I hope to see, and review, more films this year — I’m still somewhat focused on other things, and I haven’t yet decided when, or whether, to do my traditional year-end best-of list.

Instead, for now at least, I find myself looking back on my two decades of film writing and thinking about the films and the filmmakers that have come to mean the most to me over the last 21 years.

Not necessarily the “best,” most impressive, or most important films, or even necessarily the ones I recommend most strongly to others. The films that have most stayed with me in some particular way — that have haunted, challenged and changed me, or simply beckoned me irresistibly to revisit them time and again. The films that have in some way become a part of me, of my imaginative DNA.

Being a deacon he also has great thoughts about Catholic spirituality and theology which you can find at The National Catholic Register. 

Joy depends on love, on knowing that we are loved beyond imagining and comprehension, that the Creator of the universe loves each one of us, that it is good in his eyes that you exist.

None of this means that we shouldn’t take joy in the pleasures of life: in being warm, comfortable, well fed, happy, and loved. Whenever and wherever we can find them, these pleasures are gifts from God, and we’re meant to enjoy them. We should seek them. We should pray for them.

But the source of true joy is not any of God’s gifts, but God himself, and that’s a lesson that we true learn not when things are easy, but when they’re hard — when we take up the crosses that fall to us and follow Jesus, making his words the prayer of our heart: “Thy will be done.”

Some of his other profound spiritual thoughts, sharp humor, and political commentary can only be found on his FB page.
Such as this reminder….
NOT BEING A (PRACTICING) CATHOLIC? (On frequently misused/misunderstood terms and concepts)
Someone who dissents from Catholic teaching may be called a dissident.
For example, President Biden dissents from Church teaching on a number of points. Perhaps most notoriously, on the subject of abortion, although he professes to affirm the Church’s teaching regarding the immorality of abortion, he strongly dissents from the Church’s teaching regarding the moral obligation of states to protect the lives of all members of the human community, including the unborn. This makes him a dissident.
(N.b. The cogency of Mr. Biden’s professed position is not my topic here. I am considering only how his position should be characterized in the legal categories of Church thought.)
As a dissident, Mr. Biden is in an impaired state of communion with the Church. Because of this, per canon 916, he is morally obliged to refrain from presenting himself for communion.
Furthermore, my understanding of canon 915 is that he should be advised of this obligation and exhorted to repent—and if, in spite of this, he continues to present himself for communion without repenting, at some point he should be denied communion. (More from canonist Ed Peters Cardinal Gregory, unfortunately in my view, is of a different view.)
This is very different from other ways of characterizing Mr. Biden’s standing in the Church that one hears bandied about, for example on Catholic social media.
For example, I have seen claims to the effect that Mr. Biden is an “apostate,” a “heretic,” or “not a (practicing) Catholic.” The idea that Mr. Biden’s public pro-choice stance means that he is automatically excommunicate (a penalty known as latae sententiae excommunication), or at any rate that he should be excommunicated by competent authority (ferendae sententiae excommunication), is also circulating in Catholic social media.
First things first.
The word “apostasy” is widely misused today as a synonym for “heresy” (or an intensified form of heresy, like really bad heresy). In fact, heresy and apostasy are very different things.
Apostasy refers to “total repudiation of the Christian faith” (CCL 751). In other words, an apostate is a baptized person who plainly disowns the name of Christian and all allegiance to Jesus Christ. This is different from a heretic, who claims to be a Christian, but distorts the faith in a specific way. (I find that some people are helped on this point by the observation that the emperor Julian the Apostate was an apostate, while Arius the Arch-heretic was only a heretic.)
Clearly Mr. Biden, who identifies as Catholic and goes to Mass, is not an apostate.
Is he then a heretic? Heresy is a specific type of deformation of the Christian faith, namely, “the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (CCL 751).
This describes what is properly called dogma — that is, “all those things contained in the word of God, written or handed on, that is, in the one deposit of faith entrusted to the Church, and at the same time proposed as divinely revealed either by the solemn magisterium of the Church or by its ordinary and universal magisterium which is manifested by the common adherence of the Christian faithful under the leadership of the sacred magisterium” (CCL 750).
The teaching that states are morally obliged to protect the lives of all members of the human community, including the unborn, belongs to the social teaching of the Church. It is not a divinely revealed dogma which must be believed with divine and catholic faith. So Mr. Biden’s dissent on this point does not rise to the level of heresy.
What about the oft-repeated slogan that “You can’t be Catholic and support abortion”? It is certainly true that someone who supports legal abortion can’t claim to be a Catholic “in good standing,” (i.e., in unimpaired communion with the Church).
Yet this does not remove them from membership in the Church. Even excommunicated Catholics are still Catholic; contrary to popular belief, excommunication does not place you outside the Catholic Church or take away your membership in the Church. (More from Dr. Peters)

(It) is the mistaken idea that, upon excommunication, a “person is no longer a member of the Catholic Church.” Actually an excommunicated Catholic is still a Catholic in rather the same way that a convicted felon is still a citizen. An excommunicated Catholic is simply (sadly, but simply) a Catholic who is excommunicated.

Canon 205 recognizes as Catholic any baptized person who is joined with the Church “in its visible structure by the bonds of profession of faith, of the sacraments, and of ecclesiastical governance.”

So Mr. Biden is definitely Catholic. Is he a practicing Catholic? “Practicing” isn’t a canonical or theological term, but it seems to me that, as the term is commonly used, if a person goes to Mass with any regularity, they can reasonably claim to be “practicing.”
Is Mr. Biden excommunicate? Or *could he be* excommunicated by Church authority on the basis of his dissent from Church teaching on the moral obligation of states to protect the lives of the unborn? Again, the answer is no. (Dr. Peters again)
First, Canon 916. There are lots of mortal sins out there; if you commit any one of them, you’re not supposed to go to Communion. It’s your obligation to stay away. Next, Canon 915. Some mortal sins are committed under circumstances that, if the Church finds out about them, not only are you supposed to the stay away from Communion, but the Church is supposed to turn you away if you try to receive. Finally, Canon 1331. A few mortal sins are serious crimes under canon law; if you commit one of those, you can suffer the penalty of excommunication, and one of the consequences of excommunication is, you can’t go to Communion.
In short: Mr. Biden is in dissent, and that is quite serious enough. He should refrain from receiving communion, and I believe it would be just to deny him communion.
But his pro-choice position does not make him apostate or a heretic; it does not make him not a Catholic (or not practicing); it does not make him automatically excommunicate or qualify him for excommunication.
The extent of each of these words (“practicing” aside) and penalties is carefully defined. We should take care not to throw them about recklessly.
February  4, 2021 Facebook
I want to add these further resources that add some worthy commentary to the topic at hand.

A person who has committed heresy, apostasy, or schism may no longer identify himself as a Catholic, but he’s still bound by the Church’s laws—including, for example, the obligation to attend Mass every Sunday (without receiving Holy Communion, of course).This brings to mind the old saying, “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic.” There’s a sense in which that’s true, since the legal obligations we acquire upon being baptized or received into the Church continue to exist even if we renounce the Faith and no longer regard ourselves as Catholic.

It is even more clear that someone who still professes to be Catholic—even unfaithfully—remains so, even if it is purely in a “bodily” way and not “in his heart.”

Jimmy Akin, Are Bad Catholics Still Catholics?January 30, 2019) Catholic Answers 

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