(CNSNews.com) - After the election of Pope Francis I on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden issued a statement talking about the importance of Catholicism to him personally and how much he is looking forward to working with the pope.
As vice president, Biden has advanced causes directly contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church--favoring, for example, the legalized killing of children in the womb and legalized same-sex marriage.
"Jill and I want to offer our congratulations to His Holiness Pope Francis, and extend our prayers as he takes on this holy responsibility," said Biden.
"I am happy to have the chance to personally relay my well wishes, and those of the American people, when I travel to Rome for his Inaugural Mass," Biden said. "The Catholic Church plays an essential role in my life and the lives of more than a billion people in America and around the world, not just in matters of our faith, but in pursuit of peace and human dignity for all faiths. I look forward to our work together in the coming years on many important issues."
The newly elected pope has a record of using plain and powerful words to explain what the church believes is the profoundly evil nature of legalizing the killing of unborn babies and legalizing same-sex marriage.
When the government in his native Argentina moved to legalize same-sex marriage in 2010, Pope Francis, who was then archbishop of Buenos Aires, said of the legislation: "It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a ‘move’ of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” The future pope also said: "At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts.”
Biden has also defended the administration's regulation forcing health-care plans to include cost-free coverage of sterilizations, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs, all of which the Catholic Church teaches are immoral. The Catholic bishops of the United States have unanimously declared that this regulation is an "unjust and illegal mandate" that violates not only the religious liberty of Catholic organizations but also the "personal civil rights" of indvidual Catholics, including Catholic business owners and workers forced to buy insurance that violates their religious beliefs.
In last year's vice presidential debate, Biden denied that the regulation would force any Catholic institution, including Catholic hospitals, from becoming an instrument for providing people with coverage for sterilizations, contraception and abortion-inducing drugs. After that debate, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a sharply worded statement saying that Biden's claim was false.
“This is not a fact,” Biden said in the debate in response to the assertion that the administration's regulation would force Catholic institutions to act against their faith.
"With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear,” Biden said. “No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer for contraception. None has to pay for contraception. None has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact."
Not so, said the Catholic bishops.
“This is not a fact,” the bishops said in their statement responding to Biden. “The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain ‘religious employers.’ That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to ‘Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital,’ or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.
“HHS has proposed an additional ‘accommodation’ for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as ‘non-exempt,’” said the bishops. “That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation ‘to pay for contraception’ and ‘to be a vehicle to get contraception.’ They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.”
The administration has never offered any exemption at all to individual Catholics or Christians who object to being involved in sterilizations, contraceptives or abortions on religious grounds.
In numerous ongoing court cases, the Obama-Biden administration has argued that the constitutional guarantee of the free exercise of religion does not prevent the federal government from forcing Catholics to act against their faith in providing coverage and paying for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
Biden has not spoken up or taken any action to defend the religious liberty of Catholic business owners and individual workers whose rights, the Catholic bishops unanimously say, are being violated by the administration's policies.
Many of this nation's Catholic bishops have said of the Obama-Biden administration sterilization-contraception-abortifacient regulation: "We cannot--we will not--comply with this unjust law."