The spiritual leader of Washington, DC’s archdiocese says President Biden is “not demonstrating Catholic teaching” when it comes to abortion rights.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory’s comments come amid the ongoing debate of Biden’s Catholic beliefs and his support for a woman’s right to have an abortion.
Since taking office, Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, has been scrutinized by many members of the church for supporting policies that go against its teachings.
Biden, who has been vocal about his Catholic faith throughout his political career, flopped Friday on his belief on when life begins. In 2015, the then-vice president said “I’m prepared to accept that the moment of conception is a human life and being.”
Six years later, the president revealed that he respects but disagrees with those “who believe life begins at the moment of conception.” The president added that he would never impose his beliefs on others.
While at the National Press Club on Wednesday, Gregory was pressed on the president’s change in beliefs.
“The Catholic Church teaches and has taught that life, human life, begins at conception,” Gregory said, according to the Washington Times. “So the president is not demonstrating Catholic teaching.”
“Our Church has not changed its position on the morality of abortion. And I don’t see how we could, because we believe that every human life is sacred,” he later added.
In June, US Catholic bishops voted 168-55 for the drafting of a “teaching document” that many of them hope will rebuke Catholic politicians, including Biden, for receiving Communion despite their support for abortion rights.
Those in favor of the measure said a strong rebuke of Biden was needed due to his actions protecting and expanding abortion access.
Following the vote, the USCCB’s doctrine committee was expected to draft a statement on the meaning of Communion in the life of the church that will be submitted for consideration at a future meeting, most likely at an in-person gathering in November.
Gregory did not hint at any ecclesiastical consequences for Biden on Wednesday. When introducing the archbishop, Lisa Nicole Matthew with the Associated Press emphasized Gregory’s public stance that he has “no plans to prevent the president from accepting the Eucharist.”
The stance has put the White House on the ropes over the issue. On Sept. 2, White House press secretary Jen Psaki snapped at a male reporter for the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) who asked: “Why does the president support abortion when his own Catholic faith teaches abortion is morally wrong?”
After Psaki initially responded that Biden believes “it’s a woman’s right, it’s a woman’s body and it’s her choice,” reporter Owen Jensen asked: “Who does he believe then should look out for the unborn child?”
“He believes that it’s up to a woman to make those decisions, and up to a woman to make those decisions with her doctor,” Psaki shot back. “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. The president believes that right should be respected.”