During their annual meeting in November of last year, a critical mass of the Catholic bishops of the United States recognized that Joe Biden’s election to the presidency had brought the Church to a critical point.
The president-elect had long spoken, and with evident sincerity, about the ways in which his Catholic faith sustained him in times of great suffering, including the deaths of his first wife and his son. He regularly attended Mass and was famous for bragging about carrying his rosary with him. In his 2020 campaign, he quoted Pope Francis, spoke often about his affection for religious sisters, and invoked the social doctrine of the Church as a source of his policy positions.
Yet throughout his Senate career and his eight years as vice president, Biden had become an ever more strident supporter of the most extreme interpretation of the abortion regime imposed on the country by Roe v. Wade in 1973 and reinforced by Planned Parenthood v. Casey in 1992. He was an avid supporter of Obergefell v. Hodges and “gay marriage” (and officiated at one such ceremony himself when vice president). There was no visible distance between his recent policy positions, on the one hand, and those of the most aggressive LGBT and “gender theory” advocates on the other. Moreover, he seemed oblivious to the threats that all of this posed to the religious freedom of Catholic institutions and the conscience rights of Catholics in health care, education, and other fields. During the 2020 primary campaign, he went so far as to say that, as president, he would rescind the exemption from Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate (which included some abortifacients) that the outgoing administration had granted to the Little Sisters of the Poor, who refused to include contraceptives and abortifacients in their employees’ health insurance coverage.
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