John F. Kennedy was a checkered Catholic, to say the least. But most Catholics didn’t know that or didn’t care, and they voted enthusiastically for him. The checkered Catholics in today’s Democratic Party don’t have it so easy. The useless bishops are still in the tank for them, but members of the laity and a few brave priests have wised up to their lies. In recent years, ironically, the non-Catholic Obama won the Catholic vote while crappy, albeit baptized, Catholics such as John Kerry lost it. Hillary Clinton added Tim Kaine, who wore his “social justice” Catholicism on his sleeve, to the ticket, and she ended up losing the Catholic vote to Trump and Pence, a Catholic turned Evangelical.
Joe Biden, of course, has a Catholic problem too. Witness his recent troubles in the Communion line. Denied the Eucharist at a parish down in South Carolina last Sunday, Biden had hoped the incident would go unreported. It didn’t. The priest, Fr. Robert Morey, went public, saying,
Sadly, this past Sunday, I had to refuse Holy Communion to former Vice President Joe Biden. 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 priest’s position is unassailably true and rooted in Church law, but, naturally, the bishops kneecapped him. New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who has all the sturdiness of a tower of jelly, said that he wouldn’t have denied Biden Communion. Biden’s immediate bishop, Wilmington’s Bishop Francis Malooly, also announced that he would give Biden Communion. An over-the-hill hack, Malooly cares so little about Church law that he had Jack Anderson, an ex-priest who left the Catholic faith and entered a gay marriage, serving as his “defender of the bond” in marriage cases before the diocesan tribunal for many years. (Anderson finally quit, but only after I reported his work on the tribunal.)
All of this was predictable. Less predictable was Biden’s muted response, which is a clear indication that his handlers have told him that these Communion controversies hurt him politically. The hopelessly biased Judy Woodruff of PBS gave him an opportunity to play the victim, framing the Communion matter as one of offense to Biden. He replied to the softball question that “it is a private matter,” but, Biden being Biden, couldn’t help adding the whopper, “It is not a position I have found anywhere else.” That is nonsense; plenty of priests and a few bishops have said that they would deny him Communion. The vainglorious, name-dropping Biden also couldn’t help himself from invoking Pope Francis and noting that he “gives me Communion.”
Such brief asides won’t solve his Catholic problem. For one thing, invoking Pope Francis plays poorly in American politics, as the opponents of Donald Trump found out in 2016. Trump’s poll numbers didn’t fall but rose after the pope slammed his immigration position. Hiding behind an obnoxious left-wing pope won’t help Biden any more than it helped Hillary and Kaine, who tried to drive that wedge between Trump and Catholic voters. Kaine’s faux-Catholic schtick — he would go on and on about his “Jesuit volunteer corps” work in Latin America with commies — went over like a lead balloon.
The Catholics who bother to go to Mass regularly anymore are loath to vote for a candidate who supports abortion in all its grisly stages and presides over gay weddings (which Biden has done since pushing Barack Obama to support gay marriage in 2012). That poses an insuperable impediment to picking up Catholic votes. Notice that Biden’s I-grew-up-Catholic-in-Scranton lines are recited less and less. His strategists have probably concluded that that routine hurts him in the primaries and can only remind people of his checkered Catholicism in the general election. His “private” Catholic stances grow fainter and fainter and can’t even be found in a penumbra.
Remember when the Mario Cuomos used to say that they were “personally opposed” to abortion? These days that rhetoric would ruin Catholic Dems in the primaries. They can’t even say that they want abortion safe, legal, and rare, Bill Clinton’s trope. Rank-and-file Dems would call them weenies for using that language. The base wants abortion safe or unsafe, legal to the hilt, and as common as aspirin.
Even if Biden tacks to the middle in the general election (should he win the nomination), he is marked by a stain of pro-abortion extremism that can’t be expunged. We can only hope more priests follow Church law and ban him from Communion, thus reminding Americans across the country that his self-described, nostalgia-ridden Catholicism is a crock.