While President Joe Biden's pro-choice view on abortion does not comport with his Catholic religion – having told a reporter in June it is "a private matter" – the resurgent political issue is bringing the ideological clash back into the public view.
Biden has long faced criticism from conservative Catholics and Republicans on the issue of abortion. Last year, there was a call to restrict him from receiving Holy Communion, and in June, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops weighed denying pro-choice politicians from receiving communion.
That issue will be revisited in November by the conference, which called Biden's presidency and public position on abortion "a difficult and complex situation," as Politico Magazine wrote in a comprehensive feature Sunday.
"That's a private matter," Biden had said. "That is just my personal life."
Biden visited mass at his home parish St. Joseph on the Brandywine in Delaware on Saturday, and this summer Moira Sheridan and David Williams – both devout Catholics in their 60s – have led rarely covered abortion-related protests from behind the iron gates, Politico reported.
"Number one, our concern is for Joe Biden's soul," Sheridan told Politico, going to the parish to attempt to block Biden from receiving communion for his pro-choice position.
If Biden was going to be given communion, Williams told Politico, "then we don't want him comfortably going in."
Sheridan objects to Biden position as one of the world's most influential Catholics.
"He's the most public figure in the world," Sheridan told Politico. "What he does affects what other Catholics will do. There is no such thing as mainstream, there is no such thing as extreme, and there is no such thing as liberal — there is Catholic."
To some, Politico reported, Biden is "too Catholic" – and to conservatives, Biden is not Catholic enough.
Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City publicly stated in February after Biden took office he is the latter, calling on the president "to stop defining himself as a devout Catholic" and "acknowledge that his view on abortion is contrary to Catholic moral teaching," Politico reported.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki shot back at a conservative Catholic news outlet reporter this week who asked: "Why does the president support abortion when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion is morally wrong?"
Psaki denounced the man asking a question she said belongs to women's rights.
"I know you've never faced those choices, nor have you ever been pregnant, but for women out there who have faced those choices, this is an incredibly difficult thing," she said.
"The president believes that right should be respected."
Protesters outside his parish have been calling him a "fake Catholic," according to Politico.
Biden once told a crowd in 2005: "The next Republican that tells me I'm not religious, I'm going to shove my rosary beads down their throat."
But Bishop John Stowe of Lexington, Kentucky, said perception is reality with Biden's positioning himself as a devote Catholic and a staunch pro-choice defender at politics' highest level.
"The implication is that he's being phony," Stowe told Politico. "That he's being phony when he travels with a rosary in his pocket or goes out of his way to attend mass every Sunday. I don't see any reason not to take him at his word that he's done that all of his life."
Biden defended his choice to hold a political position that defies traditional Catholicism in the 2008 presidential campaign.
"This is my church as much as it is the church of a cardinal, bishop, or janitor, and I'm not going anywhere," Biden told the Christian Science Monitor then.
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