Joe Biden, and what it means to be Catholic
... Obama's announcement presses the issue; we've got the son of working-class Irish Catholics, a career politician educated at a Catholic prep school who briefly considered the priesthood, up for VP. And, he is patently not in favor of the invariable defense of human life. Ugh.
Bishop Chaput, God bless him, is off to have a little chat with the culprit in question (shades of Bellarmino), and George Weigel is on the ball, as always: "I don't think it's a happy day for Catholics when a man who is literally dead wrong on what the Catholic leadership of the United States has said for over three decades is the most important issue of social justice in our country is named to a national ticket and attempts to present himself as an intellectually serious and coherent Catholic."
...What I love most in the recent soundbites comes from celebrated author David Gibson: "But anytime you pick a Catholic, it's also courting controversy." Good.
And seriously people, on another level, Biden has got some great ecclesiology. Last year, he told the Christian Science Monitor: "There are elements within the church who say that if you are at odds with any of the teachings of the church, you are at odds with the church. I think the church is bigger than that."
Biden is patently wrong in some of his funny little assertions; ie, that there is no intrinsic right to life in human beings at early stages of development, and that "his views to the contrary are totally consistent with Catholic social doctrine." (Weird- what was he smoking?) And, he should be excommunicated for the good of his own Irish soul on account of the public stance that he has taken on abortion and the votes he has made, until he publicly repents.
But what he is right about goes all the way back to Augustine- the Catholic Church is not a method, nor a body of social teaching, nor a reform movement in the fallen world, and while she demands conformity with the truths that she has received, she is indeed "bigger" than her social doctrines. She is an ontological reality which nurtures and shelters sinners like Joe Biden and me until the day when we are judged together, and she is constituted by her Head, and visibly recognized by His vicar in the sad world. But being Catholic involves and requires a lot more than just showing up on the right side of the life issues.
Let's pray for Biden's repentance... but let's not be Donatists about it.