The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said he “cannot stay silent” on President Joe Biden’s support for expanding abortion access.
In a statement released on the day of Biden’s inauguration, USCCB President José Gomez said he is obligated to proclaim the Gospel “in all its truth and power, in season and out of season, even when that teaching is inconvenient or when the Gospel’s truths run contrary to the directions of the wider society and culture.”
“So, I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their conscience,” said Gomez, who is also the archbishop of Los Angeles.
“For the nation’s bishops, the continued injustice of abortion remains the ‘preeminent priority.’ Preeminent does not mean ‘only.’ We have deep concerns about many threats to human life and dignity in our society. But as Pope Francis teaches, we cannot stay silent when nearly a million unborn lives are being cast aside in our country year after year through abortion,” he added.
Gomez called abortion “a direct attack on life that also wounds the woman and undermines the family.”
“It is not only a private matter, it raises troubling and fundamental questions of fraternity, solidarity, and inclusion in the human community. It is also a matter of social justice. We cannot ignore the reality that abortion rates are much higher among the poor and minorities, and that the procedure is regularly used to eliminate children who would be born with disabilities,” he said.
Gomez said he is hopeful that President Biden “will work with the Church” and “begin a dialogue to address the complicated cultural and economic factors that are driving abortion and discouraging families.”
“Mr. Biden’s piety and personal story, his moving witness to how his faith has brought him solace in times of darkness and tragedy, his longstanding commitment to the Gospel’s priority for the poor — all of this I find hopeful and inspiring,” Gomez continued.
Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago criticized the USCCB’s statement as “ill-considered.”
“Aside from the fact that there is seemingly no precedent for doing so, the statement, critical of President Biden, came as a surprise to many bishops, who received it just hours before it was released,” Cupich wrote on Twitter.
Aside from the fact that there is seemingly no precedent for doing so, the statement, critical of President Biden, came as a surprise to many bishops, who received it just hours before it was released.
— Cardinal Cupich (@CardinalBCupich) January 20, 2021
Pope Francis said he hopes Biden’s decisions will be guided by an “unfailing respect for the rights and dignity of every person,” including “those who have no voice,” but made no explicit mention of abortion.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was asked Wednesday about “two big concerns for pro-life America,” those being Biden’s professed support for repealing the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City Policy.
“Well, I think we’ll have more to say on the Mexico City Policy in the coming days but I will just take the opportunity to remind all of you that he is a devout Catholic and somebody who attends church regularly,” Psaki replied.
“He started his day attending church with his family this morning but I don’t have anything more for you on that,” she added.
Jen Psaki spins out of Hyde Amdt. & Mexico City question by saying Pres. Biden is a "devout Catholic".
Either Pres. Biden is about to be a very pro-Life President or Jen Psaki (and basically everyone else) needs to stop referring to him as a "devout Catholic"…! pic.twitter.com/Tvy9qVvUnW
— Cassie Smedile (@CMSmedile) January 21, 2021
The Mexico City Policy, also called the “Global Gag Rule,” prohibits foreign organizations that receive American aid from providing abortion services or advocating for abortion. The policy was crafted by President Ronald Reagan, repealed by President Barack Obama, and then reinstated by President Donald Trump.
NPR reported Thursday that Biden does plan to revoke the policy.
The controversial Hyde Amendment prevents the use of federal funds in procuring an abortion, except in cases of rape and incest or when the mother’s life is at risk. Prior to its passage in 1976, federal programs like Medicaid covered the cost of abortions.