Head of Knights of Columbus Joins Catholic Leaders Rebuking “Catholic” Biden for Abortion Comments



By Kathleen Gilbert

September 19, 2008 ( - Yet another Catholic leader has publicly chastised Sen. Joseph Biden for his false statements about the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion. This time it is the head of the Knights of Columbus, who in a statement urged Biden to make good on his claims as a practicing Catholic and work to protect unborn life.

Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson published an open letter to Biden on Friday, on behalf of the 1.28 million members of the Knights of Columbus and their families, which will appear in USA Today and several other newspapers.  Anderson wrote the letter in response to Biden’s recent statements on NBC’s "Meet the Press" claiming that, because of past confusion in the Church over when life begins, Biden can support abortion without violating his conscience as a Catholic.

But Anderson says this is patently false.  "The bishops who have taken public issue with your remarks on the Church’s historical position on abortion are far from alone," wrote Anderson.  He emphasized Biden’s duty as a Catholic to avoid giving public scandal by representing the Church poorly: "Senator Obama stressed your Catholic identity repeatedly when he introduced you as his running mate, and so your statements carry considerable weight, whether they are correct or not. You now have a unique responsibility when you make public statements about Catholic teaching."

Anderson criticized Biden’s citing Thomas Aquinas in order to question the consistency of Church teaching on abortion. 

"First, Aquinas obviously had only a medieval understanding of biology, and thus could only speculate about how an unborn child develops in the womb. I doubt that there is any other area of public policy where you would appeal to a 13th Century knowledge of biology as the basis for modern law.

"Second, Aquinas’ theological view is in any case entirely consistent with the long history of Catholic Church teaching in this area, holding that abortion is a grave sin to be avoided at any time during pregnancy."  Anderson then cites the long history of the Church’s condemnation of abortion in any stage of pregnancy, starting with the 2nd-century Didache and continuing until modern times. 

"It [condemnation of abortion] is found in the writings of Tertullian, Jerome, Augustine and Aquinas, and was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council, which described abortion as ‘an unspeakable crime’ and held that the right to life must be protected from the ‘moment of conception.’"

Anderson emphasized that "modern medical science leaves no doubt about the fact that each person’s life begins at conception," and this fact cannot be considered a matter of religious belief.

Also, Anderson pointed out the irony of the fact that Biden’s running mate, Barack Obama, as the first black American presidential nominee, "owes an incalculable debt" to people who were motivated by their religious beliefs to confront the evils of slavery and discrimination.  He cited the words of Abraham Lincoln, who said "those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves."

The letter continues, "Lincoln fought slavery in the name of ‘a just God’ without embarrassment or apology.

"He confronted an America in which black Americans were not considered ‘persons’ under the law, and were thus not entitled to fundamental Constitutional rights. Today, children of all races who are fully viable and only minutes from being born are also denied recognition as ‘persons’ because of the Roe v. Wade regime that you so strongly support. Lincoln’s reasoning regarding slavery applies with equal force to children who are minutes, hours or days away from birth.

"The founders believed that we are ‘endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable rights,’ and that first among these is ‘life.’

"You have a choice: you can listen to your conscience and work to secure the rights of the unborn to share in the fruits of our hard-won liberty, or you can choose to turn your back on them," Anderson concluded.

See the full text of the letter here:

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