Joe Biden is Not My (Catholic) President
It is hard to imagine a worse start to a presidency than Joe Biden signing 42 executive orders in a fenced-in Washington D.C. The inauguration showed a strong military presence, but few actual citizens. This presidency bears no resemblance to democracy. None at all. And now, with the stroke of a pen, Biden has alienated American Catholics and other Christians who hold strong values about life. When asked about the abortion policies of the new administration, White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded that Biden is a devout Catholic who had gone to Mass on inauguration day. Yet, one week later, Biden proved that he is not devout or even Catholic on the issue of abortion. It is baffling why he considered it an urgent matter to end the Mexico City Policy that restricts taxpayer funding of abortion providers overseas. Originally promoted by Ronald Reagan, the Mexico City Policy enjoys broad, bipartisan support of Americans. Over three-quarters of the population, including people who are pro-choice, support this policy.
There is no pressing need, then, to revoke this popular, longstanding policy, yet this is exactly what Biden did on January 28, the day before the annual March for Life. Why is this cruel extension his first priority when it shatters the unity he spoke about? In Catholicism, abortion is a grave evil because it takes a life. In a democracy, we have a plurality of views over how important that is or why it sometimes needs to happen. Since the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, abortion is considered a right for the woman to decide more so than the society at large. Catholic politicians and citizens understand the diversity in democracy and so do not impose their values on others.
Biden, through this action, has imposed his lack of values on America. His executive order flaunts his disdain for Catholicism and ignores the citizenry he has just sworn to serve. Amid all of our problems that do need immediate attention -- vaccine distribution, COVID Relief Bill, election integrity, etc., -- Biden inexplicably made tax funding of overseas abortions his priority. This executive order is tone-deaf, unnecessary, and flagrantly anti-Catholic, as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have made clear, calling his action “grievous:” “This Executive Order is antithetical to reason, violates human dignity, and is incompatible with Catholic teaching,” the bishops wrote.
The Mexico City Policy and Hyde Amendment limit federal funding to abortion providers overseas and domestically. They do not limit abortion access or roll back any rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade, which is considered settled law by the Supreme Court. Biden supported the Hyde Amendment during his long career as a senator, yet now as president, he wants to end it as well, so that federal funding can go to abortion providers in the United States. In 2019, Planned Parenthood enjoyed $245 million in profit for its services, so it is clearly not in need and has not been for a long time. Further, abortion rates have been coming down in the last two decades, so there is less demand. Biden could have easily kept to established precedent and preserved both the Mexico City Policy and the Hyde amendment. Both honor Roe and Bill Clinton’s policy position from the 1990s, that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”
There is no reason at all for a Catholic president to pursue more aggressive abortion funding than his predecessors and no reason that he should want to. Further, it is unwise for a new president to impose a deeply unpopular policy on American citizens. Biden is flaunting his power with 42 executive orders so far while defying his own faith. Devout he is not. Who are the puppeteers running Biden? Are they anti-Catholic like Kamala Harris, or just extreme leftists drunk on power?
In the Fall of 2019, the Left worried over the Catholicism of Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett because she overtly practiced her faith. As Senator Feinstein said, “the dogmas lives loudly within you, and that is a concern.” We don’t have such a concern with Joe Biden. Instead, three weeks into his presidency, we have to wonder if it lives in there at all, and can he hear it anymore?
Dr. Carey Walsh is a professor of Theology at Villanova University and teaches courses on Scripture and the Environment, Exodus in Afro-American Religious Traditions, and is the author of The Fruit of the Vine, Exquisite Desire, and Chasing Mystery, as well as numerous articles.
Image: Ted Eytan