Magazine article The Christian Century

Biden Brings Catholic Issues into Play

Magazine article The Christian Century

Biden Brings Catholic Issues into Play

Article excerpt

While supporters say Senator Joe Biden provides a crucial Democratic Party link with Catholic voters, others say Barack Obama's choice for his running mate will stir a debate on Biden's position on abortion and Catholic teaching.

Biden regularly attends a Catholic church in Greenville, Delaware. While disagreeing with his church's stance on abortion, Biden is known for supporting other key tenets of Catholic teaching.

"He's very committed to helping working-class folks and poor people, and that's what Catholic social teaching is all about," said priest-journalist Thomas Reese, senior fellow of the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University in Washington. "So I think he takes his faith very seriously."

But shortly after Biden was picked, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver told the Associated Press: "I presume that his integrity will lead him to refrain from presenting himself for communion, if he supports a false 'right' to abortion."

Chaput is one of a handful of Catholic prelates who entered the political fray in 2004, telling Democratic nominee Senator John Kerry, who supports abortion fights, that he should not receive communion. Chaput has also suggested it's a sin for Catholics to vote for candidates who favor abortion rights.

Biden, who has been in the U.S. Senate since 1972, has long walked the line between church and state, and more specifically between abortion and politics.

"I'm a practicing Catholic, and it is the biggest dilemma for me in terms of comporting my religious and cultural views with my political responsibility," he said in 2007, as he explained his defense of Roe v. Wade.

Biden went on to say the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion encompasses "the only means by which, in this heterogeneous society of ours, we can reach some general accommodation on what is a religiously charged and publicly charged debate. …

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