Former Vice President Joe Biden has launched an ad campaign seeking to highlight his faith as many conservatives and fellow Catholics have questioned the sincerity of his beliefs.
The campaign includes three ads that are set to run in 14 states, many of which are major battlegrounds, according to Religion News Service (RNS). “These ads are one component of our expansive, direct appeal to people of faith that Vice President Biden’s agenda is much more aligned with their common good values than the divisiveness, racism, and fear we see from the current administration,” Josh Dickson, who leads the campaign’s faith engagement, reportedly said.
The ads portray Biden as turning to his faith in dark times and knowing “what it means to be your brother’s keeper.” In one ad, Biden tells a Jesuit priest and magazine editor that “my father would say the cardinal sin of all sins is the abuse of power.”
But Biden has chided those who want to end abortion, which has been painted as exploiting women and killing the most innocent in society. Referencing Biden’s stance on abortion, Cardinal Raymond Burke said that the former vice president shouldn’t receive communion and wasn’t a Catholic “in good standing.”
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“This is not a political statement, I don’t intend to get involved in recommending any candidate for office, but simply to state that a Catholic may not support abortion in any shape or form because it is one of the most grievous sins against human life, and has always been considered to be intrinsically evil and therefore to in any way support the act is a mortal sin,” said Burke, a canon lawyer who previously served as prefect of the Church’s highest court. Burke’s comments came at the end of August but caught headlines earlier this week.
Burke elaborated that Biden put his soul in “danger” by partaking in Holy Communion and said the Democratic nominee could lead others “into wrong thinking and wrong acting by [his] example.”
The politics surrounding Catholicism and abortion flared in recent weeks as a Wisconsin priest stated that Catholics Democrats should “repent” or risk facing “the fires of hell.” A prominent Jesuit priest, Fr. James Martin, later pushed back on that statement, emphasizing the role of a Catholic’s own conscience at the ballot box. Martin came under fire for offering a public prayer at the Democratic National Convention in August, but also seemed to slight the Democratic platform — which contains no explicit restriction on abortion — by praying for “the unborn child in the womb.”
Biden, who legal restrictions on the procedure, has defended himself by claiming that he refuses to impose his “religious beliefs on other people.” However, both the Catholic Catechism and some clergy have indicated that politicians have an obligation to support anti-abortion legislation. The section of the Catechism discussing abortion says that the procedure and infanticide “are abominable crimes.”
It reads: “The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.” The Catechism also warns that “[w]hen the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined.”
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Biden has received backing from religious leaders like Sr. Simone Campbell, a Catholic nun who has been critical of Republicans and recently suggested Biden’s faith shouldn’t be reduced to one issue.
But Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, called out Biden’s stances on several issues in a statement criticizing the campaign’s latest ads. “Religious voters across America aren’t fooled by Joe Biden’s deceptive ads featuring his Catholic faith,” Burch said in a statement provided to Fox News.
“Joe Biden has pledged to gut religious schools, strip away fundamental religious freedoms, and for the first time in American history, force taxpayers to directly pay for abortion. Look no further than the unprecedented assault on the Little Sisters of the Poor that Joe Biden has pledged to restart if elected. CatholicVote’s Biden Report for Catholic Voters documents his decades long anti-life and anti-faith record and policy agenda. Both Biden and [Sen. Kamala] Harris have made clear they will prioritize the agenda of Bernie Sanders and AOC [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y.], and will destroy everything Catholics and all people of faith hold dear.”
In response to Biden’s ads, CatholicVote recently purchased ad space for Catholic radio — specifically, they planned for one of their ads to air three times as much as Biden’s, Fox News is told. In mid-September, the group also launched a $9.7 million campaign with the intent of reaching 5 million active Catholics in battleground states before the election. It includes parish-by-parish canvassing, direct mail, a comprehensive report detailing Biden’s stance on key issues like the Hyde Amendment.
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For years, Biden supported the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits most taxpayer funding for abortion, with the rationale that religious Americans shouldn’t have to pay for procedures they fundamentally oppose. That’s why his reversal on the policy last year sent shockwaves through the media. Biden, however, appeared to personally flout church teaching when he officiated a same-sex wedding ceremony in 2016.
Besides abortion, CatholicVote has called out Biden’s support for the Equality Act, which the U.S. bishops’ conference has argued could threaten religious freedom, along with his and former President Obama’s administration’s battles with the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Although Trump won the Catholic vote in 2016, polling from EWTN and RealClearPolitics showed earlier this year that Catholics weren’t monolithic in their political views. Fault lines run along racial and doctrinal lines. “When it comes to foundational Church teaching, the active or devout Catholics are increasingly at odds with their fellow Catholics, to the point that there are virtually two Catholic communities in the country,” an EWTN press release reads.
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The poll also found that Biden held a 12-point lead over Trump (53% compared to 41%). While it’s unclear how Catholics will ultimately vote, Pope Benedict previously released a document in which he claimed that it was “remote material cooperation” with evil to support politicians who held permissive stances on abortion, euthanasia, and contraception — all considered grave sins by the Church. Remote material cooperation is considered morally permissible in the presence of “proportionate reasons” or potential consequences that might counterbalance the impact of the politicians stances on the other issues.
The Biden campaign did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.