President Joe Biden has been out-front and publicly pro choice for decades. In all that time, the American Catholic bishops have never excommunicated him.
Now that he is president, they are suddenly making noises about how Joe Biden is causing “scandal” and, for that reason, should be denied the Eucharist. They are huffing and puffing and winding themselves up for a really big political blow in which, at long last, they fire their spiritual cannon at the president.
In normal circumstances, and if it is handled in a pastoral way that reflects genuine concern for the salvation of the soul of the person in question, I have zero objections to withholding the Eucharist from someone who publicly participates in abortion.
President Joe Biden is pro choice. He has said so without equivocation. The problem is that he’s been saying so for decades of public life, including decades in the United States Senate, and the bishops did nothing.
It is only now that he is president that they are making all this noise. I don’t think the bishops have any concern for Joe Biden’s soul. I don’t think they even see him as a human being. I think their motivations are entirely political, and that the politics which motivate them have very little to do with the lives of unborn babies.
It would be an outrageous abuse on the part of the bishops if they were using the Eucharist as a weapon to try to force a head of state to change public policies. But that is in fact the most positive spin I can put on their behavior in this matter.
If I thought they were trying to use the Eucharist to force Joe Biden to switch his position on abortion, I still would not support them in what they were doing even though I dearly wish he would do exactly that, for the simple reason that it would be sacrilege. The only way I would support them is if I thought they had real concern for Joe Biden as a human being and were acting out of that. But they aren’t even claiming that as their motivation.
I would understand, although I would still regard it as sacrilege, if I thought they were trying to use the Eucharist as a weapon to save the lives of unborn babies. But I don’t believe that is what they are doing.
The bishops aren’t stupid enough to think that the fate of legal abortion is in Joe Biden’s hands. They’re plenty smart enough to know that we have six supposedly pro life justices on the United States Supreme Court. After all, they’ve spent a lot of their moral capital coercing Catholics to back the right wing’s choice of attempted rapists, racists and corrupt corporate shills for the Court to get this majority.
They sat around with their fingers up their clerical noses while the people they backed for the Supreme Court have gutted the Voting Rights Act, declared that corporations (as opposed to the unborn) are people, and gave billionaires the right to buy our government by spending limitlessly on campaigns.
The bishops have, despite their much ballyhooed “preferential option for the poor,” consistently backed the billionaire class in their decades-long activities which have almost destroyed this country. I think they are well aware that we should, unless we’ve been lied to, have the votes on the Court to overturn Roe and that these same pro life justices have voted several times now to uphold Roe instead.
Yet, even though these justices — including the attempted rapist — are majority Catholic, the bishops say and do nothing. If they really wanted to use the Eucharist as a weapon to force an end to abortion, the bishops would focus on the Court.
The bishops are attempting to excuse their action against Biden by claiming that Biden’s pro choice stance is causing scandal. That makes me think of Lily Tomlin’s old joke: I try to be cynical, but I can’t keep up.
Do the bishops seriously believe that Joe Biden is the cause of scandal in the Church? Really?
Somebody needs to buy the bishops a mirror. They have subjected us to a twenty year … let me repeat that … a twenty-year-long clergy sex abuse scandal of priests and, yes, bishops, raping, molesting and sexually abusing every young person of every description that they could get alone. They’ve raped little boys, little girls, teenagers, and their own seminarians. They’ve engaged in group rapes, gang rapes, repeated rapes and serial sexual predation that goes on as far back as we have records and that circles the globe.
From pole to pole, dateline to dateline, there doesn’t appear to be any Catholic diocese anywhere that is free of sexual predator priests and bishops who will cover for the predators and enable them to continue in their predation. There is also quite a number of prominent bishops and cardinals who have proven to sexual predators themselves.
That, my friends, is scandal.
Then, we have the cherry on top of their massive fail in religious leadership when they were faced with an American demagogue/wannabe dictator who gave a whole new meaning to Jim Crow, woman-hating, sexual predation, corruption, lying and treason in high places. I’m speaking of course about the bishops big fail to stand up even a little bit to the out-front and proud-of-it evil of Donald Trump and his near destruction of this country.
That, I’m outraged to say, is more scandal.
Yet, these same bishops are now trying to sell the idea that mild-mannered, grandfatherly Joe Biden is the cause of scandal in our Church. If causing scandal is cause for excommunication, the bishops need to excommunicate themselves, not Joe Biden.
I would not support the excommunication of Joe Biden at this time for the simple reason that it is obviously political. He’s been pro choice for decades. The reason the bishops are making noises about acting now is politics, and that politics has nothing to do with anybody’s right to life.
I believe that this move to excommunicate Joe Biden is a political move, designed to affect political consequences. I don’t think it has anything to do with the welfare of Joe Biden’s soul or scandal. I think it is designed to strengthen the extreme right wing by giving a moral gloss to what in fact is their extreme evil.
That leads me to the reason why I’m writing this post.
What the bishops are doing frightens me for the future of my country. We have a huge and potentially violent fascist movement in this country that is financed by the same people who have bought the influence of most of our powerful “Catholic” outlets by means of grants and financing. This includes Catholic television, radio, and many of our heretofore well-meaning Catholic publications. It also includes almost all “Catholic” apologists. These people and organizations are making book from the right wing by preaching a false Catholicism and an anti-Christ christianity that is nothing more than religion weaponized in the service of pushing racism, misogyny, ignorance and violence.
Now the bishops have decided to become part of that. If they go so far as to excommunicate a sitting president on the lie that he is the cause of scandal in American Catholicism, they will be placing their full moral weight behind the destructive right wing. They will be enabling the people who are calling for civil war. Their action will strengthen those who are trying to destroy our democracy in the name of race hatred, hatred of women, corruption and greed.
Every evil that Christ preached against in the Sermon on the Mount is manifest in the radical right today. The bishops will be putting their collective hand on the scales on behalf of that radical right.
I don’t write this post because I think the bishops are wrong to do this. I write it because the potential consequences of their action if they do it are horrible.
America is in a fragile state. Our democracy is being actively attacked by traitors from within, and those traitors are being funded and pushed by the same people have bought our Catholic ministries, apologists, and evidently, a good number of our bishops.
I know that there are Catholic bishops who are good people. I hope that they prevail in this upcoming meeting.