Last week, I was kindly invited to offer a Catholic Case for Biden to be opposite The Catholic Case for Trump. It was a very intense post to write for me. I worked very hard to keep attacks on Trump as low as possible, and to cite Church social teaching as accurately as possible. I also did my best to keep emotionally manipulative wording out of the conversation because that makes it more difficult for the readers to hear truth. Here is my half of that post, the other half is on the website-you can click the link at the bottom if you would like to read it.
The Catholic Case for Biden
Originally published at Clarifying Catholicism: Link Below
by Julia O’Donnell, Guest Writer from Suzanna Goretti
Dear Fellow Catholics,
During the last election, I lived in a Catholic community that was extremely pro-Trump. They sang his praises, wore his hats, and bought his bobble-head dolls. Still, there was something in me that screamed: “This man is not pro-life, he does not have our best interests at heart, and he is dangerous.” It all came to a head at student Mass one day. The priest began by saying that we could never support someone who blatantly brags about sexual harassment, but then, he explained that because Trump is pro-life, we had to vote for him. My heart was in knots. As soon as classes were over, I ran to the chapel in tears. The same priest was hearing confessions, so I went to him. Sobbing, I told him I wanted so badly to be a good Catholic, but I could not vote for Trump. He reprimanded me for being a Hillary supporter (which is not what I said or meant,) and told me, “Why don’t you just leave.”
This interaction is burned in my mind as one of the most terrifying moments of my life. I felt so abandoned by God, and was certain that He hated me. After that, it became incredibly important for me to know exactly what the Church teaches about voting, and this year, after studying and some eye-opening experiences, I have dedicated myself to helping others who are in the same situation as I was in.
How the Catholic Church Saw This Coming
When priests and bishops preach about the document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, they heavily focus on the right to life as the pre-eminent issue. What they often do not often mention, however, is that the right to life section mentions many more issues than just abortion. Among them are the immigrant’s right to safety, human rights, affordable housing, and racial justice. Other significant issues are, “educating the young, serving families in crisis, caring for the sick, sheltering the homeless, helping women who face difficult pregnancies, feeding the hungry, welcoming immigrants and refugees, reaching out in global solidarity, and pursuing peace.” In my opinion, President Trump violates nearly every “right to life” issue other than abortion itself.
In my experience, the immediate response of Trump supporters to this argument is that abortion is the most important issue. In some ways, that is true. Abortion deserves our attention, and it is a crisis that we should work very hard to resolve. However, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship anticipates this argument:
As Catholics, we are not single-issue voters. A candidate’s position on a single issue is not sufficient to guarantee a voter’s support. Yet if a candidate’s position on a single issue promotes an intrinsically evil act, such as legal abortion, redefining marriage in a way that denies its essential meaning, or racist behavior, a voter may legitimately disqualify a candidate from receiving support.
FORMING CONSCIENCES FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP 42
When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods. (36)
FORMING CONSCIENCES FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENSHIP 36
Those who argue that Trump is our only option overlook that there are several issues that Biden addresses better than Trump does.
Any politics of human dignity must seriously address issues of racism, poverty, hunger, employment, education, housing, and health care. . . . If we understand the human person as the “temple of the Holy Spirit”—the living house of God— then these issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation.
LIVING THE GOSPEL OF LIFE, NO. 22 QUOTED IN FORMING CONSCIENCES, EMPHASIS MINE
Later in the document, the death penalty is also mentioned as an issue that we MUST work against. Furthermore, the document states:
These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.
FORMING CONSCIENCES FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENS 37
In my opinion, the detailed way that the USCCB refutes single issue voting speaks volumes. Trump’s conduct has repeatedly shown us a lack of character and integrity that rivals any political character in recent memory. However, he is aware that the Christians are hyper-focused on abortion and same sex marriage right now. He has constantly used those issues to distract us from severe and concerning policy misdeeds, which has led to the dismissal of all the other intrinsic evils he is responsible for, such as racism, poverty, ending affordable healthcare with no replacement plan, disregard for the lives of the elderly and immigrants, and an appalling determination to fight for the death penalty. Even on Twitter, Trump shows us who he is, and if we vote for him, we are complicit in encouraging his rhetoric.
So, Why Biden?
At first, when I found out Biden was the candidate, I was apathetic. I was grateful that Warren had not been chosen because she was a radically pro-abortion candidate and I could not have voted for her (nor did I vote for Hillary.) However, over time through prayer and study, I became convinced that Joseph Biden is exactly what our country needs right now. It is important to note first of all, that a Catholic cannot fully support Joe Biden because he does politically support abortion. However, On Forming Catholic Consciences prepares us for this decision as well.
When all candidates hold a position that promotes an intrinsically evil act, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.
FORMING CONSCIENCES FOR FAITHFUL CITIZENS 36
Many Catholics who are pro-life but politically pro-choice do not necessarily support abortion. Instead, they believe there are better ways to fight it that will be more effective, as opposed to overturning Roe v. Wade. They also may have concerns about other rights that may be violated if laws that protect abortion are dismissed. I believe that Joe Biden is one of these people. My primary evidence for that is that Biden’s entire campaign is about helping the poor, especially women, financially, medically, emotionally, and physically.
In the Catholic community where I was ostracized, I became incredibly sick when I was pregnant. I was eventually forced to quit my job because my employer refused to extend my maternity leave so that I could full-time breastfeed my daughter on my doctor’s recommendations (she was born 10 weeks early). Throughout that time, I received a crash course in the difficulties that women in this country face during and after pregnancy.
Biden wants to change everything that terrified me as a new mother. On his website he mentions the Maternal death rate in the United States, which is disgracefully high, and his plans to help. He wants to make sure women and children have the insurance they need to be healthy. He plans on helping those who are seeking low-income housing and more. Meanwhile, while my family searched for affordable housing for two years, Trump bragged on Twitter about how he made it harder for low-income families to get housing in safer neighborhoods. He advertised his policies as keeping families safe when ours just wanted a home. There were so many moments I was so scared for our family (we are doing much better now, though), and I firmly believe that if women were not as scared, abortion rates would plummet.
Biden’s plan for the police is a testament to what makes him a great candidate. During the George Floyd protests and riots, while some members of the Democratic party called for defunding the police and Republicans turned a blind eye to racism, Joseph Biden quietly met with police leaders to discuss what they actually needed to do a better job. I was concerned at first to see that he suggested a higher budget until I read his memoir about his son, Beau’s, death:
In the late 80’s when the crime rate exploded, I began to pursue a new-but, in fact, a very old-concept of policing. That was getting cops back walking the street so they’ll know the shopkeepers, know the kids in the neighborhood, know the neighborhood. And getting the neighborhood to know the cops and to trust them.
PROMISE ME, DAD 40
He then writes about how he got funding to for police in 1994 and saw an improvement in crime rates by 0.6 million incidents (2 million down to 1.4 million.) This shows his desire to think outside of party lines and seek compromise. It also shows empathy and love for both sides in the way Jesus desires us to approach others.
Another issue that shows Biden’s primacy as a candidate for me is one which I strongly disagree strongly with him. Biden believes in mandatory vaccines. He personally would like for them to be mandatory, but he admits that it is not Constitutional for them to be required. Therefore, he would only encourage state leaders to do so. This is important reason because he recognizes his limitations, and is willing to abide by them, even when he disagrees with them. I believe that is also his stance on abortion because he has said that he is pro-life in his own life. President Trump has a fundamental disrespect for the checks and balances that keep our citizens safe from any one party taking control. He has repeatedly engaged in activities and speech that lack integrity and respect for his office and those of others.
America was built on checks and balances because we were built “One nation under GOD.” Our founders understood that humans are flawed and that great power corrupts. Through prayer and wisdom, they created a nation that recognized the threat of human greed for power. President Trump’s lack of respect for the boundaries of the presidency has repeatedly shown us that he cannot be trusted to work towards peace with anyone with whom he disagrees in the United States. Joe Biden’s humility in accepting his limits tells me that he would not act that way. He is everyone’s president. Pope Francis speaks of social principles of voting. The goal they should be directed at is “progress in building a people in peace, justice, and fraternity.” Joe Biden is working courageously in the face of great division to build that unity.
For me, this was an easy election. After everything I have been through and what I have seen, there was no question in my mind that Joe Biden is everything this country needs right now. That said, no Catholic may support a candidate who engages in intrinsic evil without ensuring that their reason for voting for them is not tethered to it. Both candidates in this election are pursuing certain intrinsic evils. However, one candidate consistently promulgates them, while the other wants to let individuals decide them for themselves. We are supposed to fight against abortion, and we should, but right now, when so many things are at stake, we cannot blind ourselves to every other issue.
On a final note, this election is a heavy choice for all of us, please vote your conscience. God loves you either way, no matter what. What matters, in the end is if you seek Him and if you follow what He told you. I could never in good conscience vote for Trump, maybe you can. Either way, God be with you.
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