When it comes to Friday’s meeting between President Joe Biden and Pope Francis, I want a miracle.
I hope that Francis, who has ardently defended the lives of unborn children, can find the words on abortion that Biden, America’s second Catholic president, can truly hear. And I hope that Biden can find the courage, if his heart is moved, to change his abortion position, no matter what it costs him politically.
You see why I chose the word “miracle.”
The pope and the president, who have met three times before, are expected to discuss income inequality, climate and migration, according to national security adviser Jake Sullivan. While it’s certainly probable that Francis and Biden will find areas of agreement on those topics, it’s not enough.
As Mother Teresa said at the 1994 National Prayer Breakfast, “Any country that accepts abortion is not teaching its people to love, but to use any violence to get what they want. This is why the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.”
Biden, who regularly attends Mass, could be a true revolutionary among liberal politicians, a leader who highlights that affirming human dignity and respect for life is incompatible with allowing the killing of unborn babies. He could develop ways to help support women facing unexpected pregnancies.
But so far, Biden has chosen another path.
Biden might have a moderate political persona, but he is pursuing an extreme abortion agenda. The Biden Justice Department is fighting Texas’ heartbeat law, which protects unborn babies at about six weeks into a pregnancy and beyond. The president also supports overturning the Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayer funding of most abortions, despite decades of bipartisan support for the amendment. And in his first days in office, Biden ended the Mexico City policy, which prohibits international organizations that receive U.S. funding from promoting abortion.
On the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the court case that has led to the deaths of more than 62.5 million American unborn babies, according to National Right to Life, Biden wasted no time mourning those lives. Instead, in a joint statement with Vice President Kamala Harris, Biden said, “The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe.”
Biden has shifted his view on abortion
Earlier in his political career, Biden had more qualms about abortion, supporting the Hyde Amendment, sharing concerns about Roe v. Wade, and voting against federal workers having access to government-funded abortions in most cases.
But whether out of conviction or political scheming, Biden flip-flopped, morphing into yet another liberal lawmaker on abortion, blind to the rights and human dignity of unborn children.
That makes him very different than Francis.
“Whoever has an abortion kills,” the pope said in September, according to Vatican News. He added, “Is it right to kill a human life to solve a problem? … Scientifically, it is a human life.”
In his 2007 memoir, “Promises to Keep,” Biden wrote, “I personally am opposed to abortion, but I don’t think I have the right to impose my view – on something I accept as a matter of faith – on the rest of society.”
But as Francis notes, being pro-life is not a religious belief. It’s simply about following the science, and recognizing that an unborn baby with her own heartbeat, unique DNA and ability to grow is a human being, not a clump of cells.
Nor is it something the president should just “personally” oppose. Imagine if Biden said he “personally” opposed racism but didn’t want to “impose” that view. Rightly, he’d be lambasted.
Bishops to discuss communion
The Biden-Francis meeting comes amid a discussion among American Catholic bishops about whether it’s appropriate for Catholic politicians who openly support abortion to receive communion, which Catholics believe is the Body and Blood of Christ. It’s expected the bishops will continue that conversation next month during a meeting about communion, although I personally would be surprised if Francis addressed the topic publicly Friday.
That discussion among the bishops might seem exclusionary. After all, every single Catholic is a sinner. (I certainly have plenty to ‘fess up to every time I go to confession.) Why should pro-abortion Catholic lawmakers be singled out? Certainly, many American Catholics are wary of such an approach: A March Pew Research Center survey found that two-thirds of U.S. Catholics don’t think Biden’s abortion views should disqualify him from communion.
But paradoxically, banning Biden from communion could be an act of mercy.
After all, while Catholic Masses are open to all, communion is reserved for those who are Catholic and in a state of grace, which is to say they have not committed any serious sins since their last confession. Think about it this way: If a friend had betrayed you, would you be open to confiding in them before they had shown any change of heart? Probably not.
Catholics can (and do) debate plenty of matters among themselves. But abortion is not one.
Denying communion may be the wake-up call that pro-abortion politicians need. Regardless of the true intentions of pro-abortion Catholic lawmakers (and I make no claim to reading their hearts), their reception of communion suggests to other Catholics that being pro-abortion is compatible with Catholicism, which isn’t true.
After all, Jesus welcomed all, but He also pushed for conversion. In the famous Bible passage where Jesus says the first without sin can start stoning the adulterous woman, Jesus does not simply wish the woman well when everyone disappears, leaving her safe. Instead he both forgives and calls her to a new life, as stated in John 8:11: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.”
Biden has the opportunity to make America a place where unborn lives are protected and cherished, where the women facing unexpected pregnancies are supported, where the dads of these unborn children are required to take responsibility.
Hopefully, his meeting with Francis gives him the insight and the courage to start making that America happen.
Katrina Trinko is a member of USA TODAY’s Board of Contributors and editor-in-chief of The Daily Signal. Her views do not represent her employer, The Heritage Foundation. Follow her on Twitter: @KatrinaTrinko