WASHINGTON, D.C., September 21, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Joe Biden told a leading liberal Catholic publication that determining when life begins is “above my pay grade” – words that echoed Barack Obama speaking to Rick Warren in 2008.
In an extended interview the vice president told America magazine that squaring his Catholic faith with his voting record on issues such as abortion “has been hard.”
“I’m prepared to accept as a matter of faith – my wife and I, my family,” that “at the moment of conception there's human life and being. But what I'm not prepared to do is to impose” a “rigid” or “precise” view on the issue that is “born out of my faith, on other people who are equally God-fearing, equally as committed to life,” but support abortion-on-demand.
The vice president seemed more interested in discussing the theological aspect of the abortion debate, saying that there had been “disagreement in our church” about the moment that life begins. St. Thomas “Aquinas argued…in Summa Theologica about human life and being, when it occurs,” he said.
The words of Aquinas and St. Augustine of Hippo about when life may begin are often cited by those who favor abortion, such as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, as “proof” that the Roman Catholic Church has changed its teachings. The two saints worked with the best science that existed in their day. However, the early Christian Church always taught that abortion was a grave sin.
Biden agreed that the Catholic faith teaches that “abortion is always wrong.”
“I don't want to start a theological discussion. I’ll get in trouble,” Biden said. “It's above my pay grade.”
However, he shared that he was not always so reticent to debate the contentious topic.
“I actually had that discussion with Pope Benedict” shortly before the last pontiff resigned his papacy, Biden said – recalling that the discussion was “like going back to theology class.”
“And by the way, he wasn't judgmental,” Biden said, apparently shattering the popular image of Pope Benedict XVI, the former Cardinal Josef Ratziner, as “God's Rottweiler.”
Asked if there is a place for pro-life voters in the Democratic Party, Biden replied, “Absolutely. Absolutely, positively. And that's been my position for as long as I've been engaged.”
Biden is said to have nudged President Obama into publicly proclaiming his support for same-sex “marriage.”
He began the interview, responding to an interviewer's question on the nation's ebbing anti-Catholicism, by saying that “always been in the direction of inclusiveness, always been in the direction of acceptance.”
Biden said he was thrilled by the “tone” of Pope Francis on the same issue.
“We can argue about dogma, we can argue about some of the de fide doctrine that’s been declared, but” some things are “below it and above it.”