It may come as a surprise to some that the result of the Presidential election showed that the Catholic vote was almost evenly divided between Donald Trump and Joseph Biden. You may wonder why there is such a divide in the Catholic vote, particularly since Joseph Biden is a practicing Catholic. In fact, therein lies the problem.
The U.S. Catholic bishops came out in their November meeting with a letter, appended to their “Faithful Citizenship” document on discerning how to vote. In that letter the bishops state that they consider abortion their preeminent issue leading up to the Presidential election. Unfortunately, Joseph Biden’s Democratic Party platform supports the right to an abortion. This position has led many to declare that Joseph Biden supports abortion; in fact some even call Biden a “baby killer.”
As a result of this, pro-life Catholics, including some bishops and priests, declared that Catholics ought not to vote for Joseph Biden because he is neither pro-life nor truly a Catholic. With this information, some might wonder how Biden got the Catholic votes he did get.
The explanation is that many Catholics see pro-life in a much broader context within Catholic social teaching. To be truly pro-life, one must also support the opposition to the death penalty, the right for all people to health care, immigration reform and the preservation of our planet through care of creation. There is more to being pro-life than being against abortion.
When many Catholics reflected on the broad spectrum of issues comprising Catholic social teaching and how the candidates support those issues, they concluded that Joseph Biden is more truly pro-life than Donald Trump. Even though the Democratic party platform supports the right to abortion, a vast majority of Catholic Democrats are opposed to abortion and do whatever they can to reduce if not eliminate the desire of anyone for an abortion.
As promoters of peace and justice in the Vincentian Family, we need to do all we can to promote Catholic social teaching within our Church and our general society. We need to do what we can to work with our local and national government officials, particularly with a new Administration coming into office. There are many issues that we Catholics share with the new Administration regarding immigration reform, health care for all and the end of the death penalty. While working on these issues, we can also use our influence to find ways to reduce if not eliminate even the desire for abortions, particularly through help to those who are impoverished.
Rev. Louis Arceneaux, C.M., New Orleans, LA