The Deacon's Bench

First, Pelosi, now Biden.

Another prominent American Catholic politician is wading into deep — and hot — water over the issue of abortion. And it happened, once again, in remarks made on “Meet the Press.” This time, it was Delaware Senator and Democratic nominee for vice president, Joe Biden.
Here’s the story, from American Papist. The senator was asked “When does life begin,” and replied:

I’d say, “Look, I know when it begins for me.” It’s a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I’m prepared to accept the teachings of my church.

From there, he then went on, wading deeper:

But let me tell you. There are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths–Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others–who have a different view. They believe in God as strongly as I do. They’re intensely as religious as I am religious. They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life–I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society.

But wait, there’s more.

Barely 24 hours after making those remarks, the Biden is expected to attend the installation of Wilmington’s new bishop, W. Francis Malooly. This could get interesting:

Malooly said he won’t be surprised if the media ask him about the best-known member of his new diocese — Sen. Joe Biden, who is running for vice president.

Biden, a 35-year member of the Senate, has said he believes in Catholic teachings on the sanctity of life but has often voted in favor of abortion rights.

“I’m anxious to have a chance to speak with him as I would any politician,” Malooly said at a farewell reception in Parkville, Md., last Sunday.

He’ll seek to understand Biden’s point of view, much as he did with Maryland politicians. And Malooly said that he will share the scope of Catholic pro-life teachings with Biden.

A sizable number of Catholics hold beliefs that go against church teachings, the bishop said.

“I have to work on everybody, not just Joe Biden,” Malooly said.

Biden has been invited to the installation, but as of late Friday, Biden’s staff still was trying to work out the candidate’s schedule so he could attend.

Meantime, Biden’s running mate is making some abortion news himself:

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama acknowledged Sunday that he was probably too flip when he said it was “above my pay grade” to answer a question about when is a baby entitled to human rights.

Obama gave his answer last month at a nationally televised religious forum sponsored by minister Rick Warren at his megachurch in Orange County, Calif.

Asked on Sunday whether the “above my pay grade” answer was too flip, Obama said: “Probably. …What I intended to say is that, as a Christian, I have a lot of humility about understanding when does the soul enter into … It’s a pretty tough question.

“And so, all I meant to communicate was that I don’t presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions,” he said in an interview broadcast Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

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