Top Catholic bishop criticizes Biden's 'single-minded extremism' on abortion

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks after signing a book of condolence at Lancaster House in London on September 18, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks after signing a book of condolence at Lancaster House in London on September 18, 2022, following the death of Queen Elizabeth II on Sept. 8. | BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

The leader of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' pro-life committee has issued a formal statement criticizing President Joe Biden, a Roman Catholic, for his "single-minded" prioritization of ensuring the legality of abortion ahead of the upcoming midterm elections. 

Archbishop William Lori of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, who serves as chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued a statement in response to Biden's vow that codifying a right to abortion into federal law will be his top priority if Democrats maintain control of both houses of Congress.

While the Democrat-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed the Women's Health Protection Act this year, the bill has come up short in the evenly divided U.S. Senate

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"The President is gravely wrong to continue to seek every possible avenue to facilitate abortion instead of using his power to increase support and care to mothers in challenging situations," Lori wrote.

"This single-minded extremism must end, and we implore President Biden to recognize the humanity in preborn children and the genuine life-giving care needed by women in this country."

Noting that members of the USCCB "deal daily with the tragic impacts of abortion," Lori stressed that "abortion is a violent act which ends the life of preborn children and wounds untold numbers of women."

The archbishop expressed a desire to "continue in our work with our government and leaders to protect the right to life of every human being and to ensure that pregnant and parenting mothers are fully supported in the care of their children before and after birth."

The president's push to codify a right to abortion into federal law follows the U.S. Supreme Court's determination this June that the U.S. Constitution does not contain a right to abortion. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision reversed the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

At a Democratic National Committee fundraiser last week, Biden declared that "the court got Roe right nearly 50 years ago, and I believe Congress should codify Roe once and for all."

Noting that "we're short a handful of votes" as Congress is currently composed, Biden insisted that "it's so critical to elect more Democratic senators to the United States Senate and more Democrats to keep control of the House of Representatives" in the November elections. 

"If we do that, here is the promise I make to you and the American people: The first bill that I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade," he added. "And when Congress passes it, I'll sign it in January, 50 years after Roe was first decided the law of the land." 

Public opinion polling indicates that Biden and the Democrats face an uphill battle in their quest to maintain complete control of Congress. The RealClearPolitics average of polls asking voters which party they want to control Congress shows Republicans with a 2.1-point lead. 

The FiveThirtyEight Deluxe Model, which forecasts election outcomes based on "polls, fundraising, past voting patterns" and the opinions of political experts, gives Republicans an 82% chance of retaking the House. At the same time, the model gives Democrats a 53% chance of keeping the U.S. Senate as of Thursday afternoon. 

Lori's statement is not the first time Catholic bishops have expressed concern about the support for legal abortion among politicians who identify themselves as practicing Roman Catholics.

Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who preceded Lori as the chairman of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities, suggested that Biden should stop referring to himself as a "devout Catholic" because of his pro-abortion advocacy. 

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, who oversees the area where pro-abortion Catholic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., lives, has repeatedly maintained that "you cannot be a good Catholic" and support abortion.

Biden's support for abortion rights caused a Catholic priest to withhold communion from him while he was on the campaign trail in 2019. Supporters of withholding communion from Biden and other pro-abortion Catholic politicians point to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Code of Canon Law when justifying their position. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church proclaims that abortion is "gravely contrary to the moral law." The Church's Code of Canon Law also states that those "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion."

In 2004, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI, wrote a letter to U.S. bishops elaborating on the need to withhold communion from pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

"When a person's formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church's teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist," Ratzinger explained. 

Whether to give communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians became a point of contention last year when the USSCB considered passing a resolution urging priests to withhold communion from Catholic politicians who publicly support abortion. The USCCB ultimately stopped short of approving a resolution telling priests to withhold communion from pro-abortion politicians, instead electing draft a document titled "The Meaning of the Eucharist in the Life of the Church." 

In response to concerns about the document, the USCCB asserted that "the document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons."

As summarized by the USCCB, the document will "include a section on the Church's teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate." 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at:

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