By Mary Margaret Olohan
CNN and reporters called 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden a “devout Catholic” Thursday after President Donald Trump said the former vice president would “hurt the Bible, hurt God.”
Biden has frequently referenced his Catholic faith throughout his political career, describing his faith as “the bedrock foundation” of his life. The former vice president also supports policies that are explicitly opposed to Catholic teaching, such as abortion and same-sex marriage.
During a rant Thursday, Trump described a potential Biden presidency as anti-religion.
“He wants to take away your guns, destroy your Second Amendment. No religion, no anything,” Trump said Thursday. “Hurt the Bible, hurt God. He’s against God. He’s against guns. He’s against energy, our kind of energy.”
Biden responded to Trump’s remarks in a statement saying that his faith has provided him “comfort in moments of loss and tragedy” and kept him “grounded and humbled in times of triumph and joy.”
“And in this moment of darkness for our country — of pain, of division, and of sickness for so many Americans — my faith has been a guiding light for me and a constant reminder of the fundamental dignity and humanity that God has bestowed upon all of us,” he added.
Biden campaign spokesman Andrew Bates also said that Biden’s faith is at “the core of who he is,” noting in a statement: “Donald Trump is the only president in our history to have tear-gassed peaceful Americans and thrown a priest out of her church just so he could profane it — and a Bible — for his own cynical optics as he sought to tear our nation apart at a moment of crisis and pain.”
Journalists and media figures responded to Trump’s allegations on Twitter by calling Biden a “devout Catholic.”
Joe Biden is a devout catholic and regularly attends Sunday service.
The last time Trump went to church, he gassed peaceful Americans.
— The Lincoln Project ?☠️ (@ProjectLincoln) August 7, 2020
— The Lead CNN (@TheLeadCNN) August 6, 2020
“Biden is a devout Catholic who has quoted Scripture on the campaign trail,” tweeted Politico’s Quint Forgey.
Los Angeles Times opinion writer Virginia Heffernan called Trump’s comments a “sicko travesty,” emphasizing that “Biden is a lifelong practicing and devout Catholic and, if elected, would be only the second Catholic president.”
“Even Trump’s evangelical supporters consider Trump irreligious,” she added.
CNN fact checker Daniel Dale tweeted: “Joe Biden will ‘hurt the Bible, hurt God,’ Trump says in Ohio of his practicing Catholic opponent.”
Joe Biden will "hurt the Bible, hurt God," Trump says in Ohio of his practicing Catholic opponent. "He's against God."
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) August 6, 2020
Biden has frequently interacted with Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, as The Washington Post noted Friday. He was the first Catholic to become vice president, the publication reports, and was reportedly spotted holding rosary beads during the 2011 raid on Osama Bin Laden.
“My religion is just an enormous sense of solace,” Biden said in 2015, discussing the tragic deaths of his wife and daughter in a 1972 car accident as well as the death of his son Beau Biden, who died of cancer in 2015.
“What my faith has done is it sort of takes everything about my life with my parents and my siblings and all the comforting things and all the good things that have happened, have happened around the culture of my religion and the theology of my religion, and I don’t know how to explain it more than that,” Biden added.
He’s also discussed going to mass on Sunday and Catholic Holy Days of Obligation. “I made 9 o’clock,” he said in 2008 of going to mass on All Saints Day, a holy day in the Catholic Church. “My mom is 91 years old. I’ll call my mom sometime today and the first thing she’ll ask is ‘Joe, did you go to Mass?’”
Despite Biden’s frequent references to his faith, the former vice president has drawn criticism for supporting and advocating for policies which the Catholic Church explicitly opposes.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has warned that Catholics in politics “have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.”
Earlier in his career, Biden frequently referenced his faith as a reason for his pro-life votes in the Senate.
“I’m probably a victim, or a product, however you want to phrase it, of my background,” Biden said in 1982 of his decision to vote for a pro-life amendment.
The Catholic Church teaches that abortion is “a crime against human life,” “constitutes a grave offense” and that a person who obtains an abortion is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church.
Biden has since changed his abortion stances and today champions almost unlimited abortion access as a presidential candidate, prompting a priest to deny Holy Communion to Biden during mass at a Catholic church in South Carolina in October 2019.
“Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden,” Father Robert E. More told the Morning News. “Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that. Any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.”
The former Vice President later refused to discuss the incident, telling MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell: “I’m not going to discuss that, that’s my personal life and I’m not going to get into that at all.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden was denied communion Sunday at a Catholic church in South Carolina over his support for abortion rights. https://t.co/eCT1jTFz1P
— CNN (@CNN) October 29, 2019
The Catholic News Agency reported in October 2019 that the Diocese of Charleston, S.C., has a policy requiring priests to refuse to give pro-abortion politicians communion.
“Catholic public officials who consistently support abortion on demand are cooperating with evil in a public manner,” says the 2004 decree, signed by the bishops of Atlanta, Charleston, and Charlotte. “By supporting pro-abortion legislation they participate in manifest grave sin, a condition which excludes them from admission to Holy Communion as long as they persist in the pro-abortion stance.”
“We declare that Catholics serving in public life espousing positions contrary to the teaching of the Church on the sanctity and inviolability of human life, especially those running for or elected to public office, are not to be admitted to Holy Communion in any Catholic church within our jurisdictions,” the decree adds.
Biden has also promised that as president, he will reinstate Obama-era policies requiring the Little Sisters of the Poor to give employees access to birth control — though this violates the Catholic religious beliefs of the sisters, and despite the fact that the Supreme Court ruled July 8 that the Catholic nuns are exempt from Obama’s contraceptive mandate.
The former vice president also advocates for same-sex marriage, though the Catholic Church teaches that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
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