Liberal audacity and hypocrisy was on display in the Vatican March 20 as both Vice President Joe Biden and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) partook of Communion during Pope Francis I's installation — in spite of their aggressive efforts over the years to keep abortion legal and profitable in the United States. The vice president’s office confirmed that he and Pelosi, who are both confirmed Catholics, took Communion during the Mass at St. Peter’s Square.
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Pope Francis expressed his opposition to offering communion to politicians who support legalized abortion. “We must adhere to ‘eucharistic coherence,’” he wrote in 2007, “that is, be conscious that [politicians] cannot receive holy communion and at the same time act with deeds or words against the commandments, particularly when abortion, euthanasia, and other grave crimes against life and family are encouraged. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”
In a vice presidential debate during last year's presidential campaign, Biden claimed that he is personally opposed to abortion and that he embraces the Church's teaching that life begins at conception. But he insisted that he did not have the right to impose his beliefs on others and supported a woman's right to choose to kill her pre-born baby.
LifeNews.com noted that Biden's own bishop has chastised the vice president for his unbiblical stance on protecting life. In an interview with the Delaware News Journal, Biden claimed that “throughout the Church’s history, we’ve argued between whether or not [abortion] is wrong in every circumstance and the degree of wrong. Catholics have this notion, it’s almost a gradation.”
In a letter to the editor, Bishop W. Francis Malooly of the Diocese of Wilmington called Biden's absurd explanation “a seriously erroneous picture of Catholic teaching on abortion.” Malooly confirmed that Catholic teaching “is clear and not open to debate. Abortion is a grave sin because it is the wrongful taking of an innocent human life.” He added that the Church “received the tradition opposing abortion from Judaism. In the Greco-Roman world, early Christians were identifiable by their rejection of the common practices of abortion and infanticide.... The Didache, probably the earliest Christian writing apart from the New Testament, explicitly condemns abortion without exceptions. This has been the consistent teaching of the Church ever since.”
Like Biden, as a longtime Democrat U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi has been at the front of the legislative pack in opposing any limits on abortion and the defunding of abortion giant Planned Parenthood. LifeNews recalled that in 2011 “Pelosi was upset that the nation’s Catholic bishops protested the Obama administration decision forcing insurance companies to cover birth control, contraception, and drugs that could cause abortions.”
The pro-life news site recalled that Pelosi told the Washington Post that the Church's position is akin to Catholic hospitals saying to a woman: “I’m sorry you could die” if you don’t get an abortion. She added that those who dispute that characterization “may not like the language, but the truth is what I said. I’m a devout Catholic and I honor my faith and love it … but they have this conscience thing.”
LifeNews noted that in a 2006 interview, “Pelosi regretted that her family is 'very pro-life' and would 'like it if I were not so vocally pro-choice.' But, she proclaimed, 'To me it isn’t even a question. God has given us a free will.' Also, she said the 'free will' of women wanting abortions outweighs pro-life Catholic teachings.”
Predictably, the actions of both Biden and Pelosi at the Vatican set off a firestorm of criticism from Catholic leaders, among them Father Frank Pavone, who heads the pro-life group Priests for Life. “Vice President Biden and Nancy Pelosi should certainly not receive Communion, either at the papal installation or anywhere else,” warned Pavone before the Mass. “Communion means ‘union,’ and they are not in union with the church on the most fundamental moral issue of the right to life.”
In a followup e-mail, Father Pavone wrote with anger that at the Vatican Mass, “during which our new Pope emphasized the duty public officials — and all the rest of us — have to protect the weakest among us, Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi have the audacity to receive Communion while publicly renouncing their responsibility to protect the weakest among us.”
Pavone added that some leaders in the Church “mistakenly think we are advocating the use of the Eucharist as a ‘weapon’” by insisting that Catholic politicians who support legalized abortion may not receive communion. “In fact,” he clarified, “we are defending the Eucharist from being used as a political tool. These politicians have no respect for what the Eucharist means: an integral, consistent union with Christ and with all our brothers and sisters. To receive Christ while rejecting the unborn is a slap in the face to both.”
Catholic and pro-life advocate Deal Hudson explained to LifeNews.com that “when pro-abortion politicians receive communion at public Masses a message is sent out that they are in good standing with the Church, which they are not.... A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession....”
Meanwhile, pro-life U.S. Representative Chris Smith (R-N.J.), who also attended the papal installation Mass, confirmed that in his first comments the new Pope affirmed the Church's obligation to defend all life. “It was just an awe inspiring event, but most importantly, a very holy event,” Smith said of the Mass. “The Pope’s homily and his call to protect, invoking Our Lord’s words in Matthew 25 about protecting the least of our brethren, was just an extraordinary rallying call to every one of us to reach out to the disenfranchised and the weakest and most vulnerable....”
Added Smith: “Whatever the situation may be, we have to become protectors. That’s what we’re admonished to do by Our Lord, and certainly we heard that today from Pope Francis."