A Critical Analysis of “Staring Into the Abyss with Fr. Ed Meeks” — PART TWO
“In this statement, we bishops do not intend to tell Catholics for whom or against whom to vote.”
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility from the Catholic Bishops of the United States (emphasis added)
“A Catholic organization may not directly or indirectly make any statement, in any medium, to endorse, support, or oppose any candidate for public office, political party or PAC.”
Political Activity & Lobbying Guidelines for Catholic Organizations — USCCB Office of General Counsel
On October 11th, Fr. Edward Meeks delivered a 26-minute homily at Christ the King parish in Towson, MD. His homily was subsequently uploaded to his YouTube channel under the title “Staring Into the Abyss with Fr. Ed Meeks” and has amassed over one million views at this writing.
The homily has also been poorly transcribed and published at The Thinking Conservative. I was unable to copy and paste directly from the published transcript, but I converted it to a PDF document and will be using that version (with slight corrections) for my analysis here.
Fr. Meek’s homily can be divided into three parts: the preamble, a five-point critique of Joe Biden, and the conclusion. I will work through the homily in the same sequence here, working selectively in line-by-line commentary and then comments following longer sections. This is part two of three. Read part one here. (Part three is here.)
PART TWO: FIVE-POINT CRITIQUE OF JOE BIDEN
Number One: Joe Biden is unabashedly pro-abortion.
This is Fr. Meeks’ first and more important point if we recall the three non-negotiables he outlined in part one. I will go through this first point in line-by-line detail. For the other four points, I will treat each of them as a whole. As the homily treats Biden and the Democratic party in severe detail, you should recall the massive performative contradiction that is mounting as Fr. Meeks violates canon law and the guidelines that the Catholic bishops have issued to clergy and the faithful.
Joe Biden is unabashedly pro-abortion.
Joe Biden has never claimed to be pro-abortion. In fact, there are very few pro-choice advocates for legal abortion or “abortion rights” advocates who describe themselves as pro-abortion. This is more than a matter of semantics given the burden of cooperation we find in moral theology. If Joe Biden were, in fact, a supporter of abortion as opposed to a supporter of the right for women to choose to have an abortion, things might be very different. There is a real moral difference between saying “I am for abortions” and saying “I am for women having the right to choose to have an abortion.” The latter keeps the possibility of being against abortion personally while supporting a law that allows for it, while the former does not. By framing his first point in this way, Fr. Meeks begins his partisan attack of Joe Biden in a sloppy bit of inexact and overdetermined rhetoric.
This fact is clear from his long voting record, his public pronouncements, his allegiance to and support of groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL, and for his party’s platform, not only in this election year, but in their platformgoing back decades.
Biden’s record actually shows a very different picture. It shows a man who has struggled to prioritize competing goals and goods. For example, it was Biden who negotiated the exception for religious non-profits for Obamacare. His movement on this issue forces one to get into the detail of the policy and the jurisprudence about it. I will go into more detail about it below, but the fact is that Biden presently believes that the Obamacare coverage expansion can become universal or at least must be equally accessible to all. This goal of universal access to healthcare does mean not being selective about healthcare offerings, but this balance is a deeply prudential decision, not a single issue priority.
He, and they, support abortion for any reason or for no reason right up to and even beyond the moment of birth.
This is a reference to the Born Alive Act. Trump has tried to make a duplicate version of the 2002 Born Alive Act, which passed unanimously in both house and senate, which was opposed for varied reasons. But none of those reasons indicate a desire to not prosecute or to allow for infants to be killed. We can test this easily by looking at the sentencing of Gosnell which shows that these laws are in place and for good reason. You can read more about this issue here.
He, and they, opposed the effort in Congress to pass legislation requiring doctors who perform abortions to provide medical care to babies who survive the abortion opting rather to let such babies, simply die outside the womb with no care.
As noted above, this is referring directly to a new Born Alive Act, which already exists since 2002, originally sponsored by Senator Ben Sasse, which was rejected in February. This bill did several things, but it was never proposed in a way that meant to pass. For one, it allowed the Trump administration to appear to be proposing new abortion policies even though this bill already existed. Secondly, it allowed Republican supporters to frame abortion in terms of late-term and, as we see in Fr. Meeks’ homily, even full-term infants. This is powerful rhetoric when campaigning but it misses the real reasons it was opposed which had more to do with the fact that existing laws already address it, including the 2002 bill it copies. Fr. Meeks’ framing here is almost identical to Trump’s. After the bill failed, Trump wrote this on Twitter: “Senate Democrats just voted against legislation to prevent the killing of newborn infant children. The Democrat position on abortion is now so extreme that they don’t mind executing babies AFTER birth.” We can see that Fr. Meeks’ “non-partisan” critique of Biden is also making his pulpit and parish a mouthpiece for Trump.
He, and they, are pushing for the repeal the Hyde Amendment, anaction which would force All American taxpayers, including you and me, to fund abortions,to pay for them.
Biden has indeed gone from being a staunch Hyde Amendment supporter to opposing it. The reasons for this can be said to be for political expediency or, more reasonably, Biden’s realistic assessment of the policies that may become an obstacle for his proposed healthcare plan. The Hyde Amendment is a measure that prevents Medicare from covering abortion access with medical exceptions. The result is that the population who qualifies for Medicare becomes an unequal participant in the laws that permit access to legal abortion. From the side of taxpayer conscience, we can understand why Biden supported this amendment for many years, from the side of someone looking to propose a new healthcare plan that focuses on equal access, I think we can see why it is now seen as an obstacle to Biden.
Along with your anti-life positions on euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research and other issues, the Democratic party has become the party of death and Catholic Joe Biden is their standard-bearer, or as he said in the first presidential debate, “I am the Democratic Party”.
Biden has said this on euthanasia to Senate Committee on the Judiciary on April 27, 2000: “I am opposed to legalizing physician-assisted suicide in this country, period.” Regarding stem cell research, this is a replay of the Obama vs. McCain election where this issue emerged. But if one pays close attention to legislation since Bush, it is evident that both parties have held a number of different and even opposing positions including Trump’s recent COVID-19 Regeneron treatment which made use of stem cells. Here Fr. Meeks really oversteps as his total focus on the Democratic party as the “party of death” misses the Trump’s enthusiasm for the death penalty and also his callous and incompetent handling of COVID-19. As we will see, Fr. Meeks will critique COVID-19 shutdowns, but it is remarkable that in the midst of a global pandemic where over 200 thousand Americans are dead, Fr. Meeks see the opposition party, and not the incumbent, as “the party of death.”
Number Two: Joe Biden opposes the Church’s teaching on the sanctityof marriage
Joe Biden opposes the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of marriage. While he was vice-president and he publicly endorsed same-sex marriage in 2012, three years before The Supreme Court ruling. And in 2016, while still the vice president, he officiated over the wedding ceremony of two men, posting a photo of the ceremony on Twitter with the caption, “Proud to marry Brian and Joe at my house. Couldn’t be happier. Two long-timeWhite House staffers. Two great guys”.
We should not work too hard on this point. Donald J. Trump is thrice-married and a serial adulterer with zero regard for the civic or religious institution of marriage. Biden, by contrast, knows the pain of losing one’s beloved and the suffering of burying a son. I think Biden knows far more about the human family than Trump’s transactional and scandalous records on the matter. Fr. Meeks has fully descended into a Trumpian parody, all within a homily at a Catholic mass. This is a scandal.
Number Three: A Biden presidency would be a danger to our religious liberty
A Biden presidency would be a danger to our already dwindling religious liberty. He and his party advocate for the repeal of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which protects the religious conscience rights of healthcare workers who declined to participate in abortions and of Church based adoption agencies that choose to place children only with married heterosexual couples, among other things. Biden is also on record committing to restoring the Obamacare mandate requiring religious ministries and orders like the Little Sisters ofthe Poor to provide contraceptive and abortifacient drugs to their employees, despite the fact that that is a direct violation of their faith, conviction and of church teaching. And, by the way, on the subject of religious liberty, Joe Biden is on the record as saying, that as president he would not hesitate to reinstitute a nationwide pandemic lockdown if the science demands it. Undoubtedly such a lockdown would, once again, close our churches. Let me remind you what it was like for us to have no public masses and no sacraments for 11 weeks this past spring.
Joe Biden voted for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993. At that time it was seen as a bill that would create exemptions for Native Americans, like the use of ritual peyote. Since then, the left of centre bill has been copied in states or used as a reason to deny services to same-sex couples and more. This bill is also a key part of the Hobby Lobby demand to be afforded the same exceptions as religious non-profits, like Little Sisters of the Poor. In the latter case, the nuns recently won a decision that asks for more than the initial exemption granted by Obamacare, which would only apply to their staff. So this 1993 bill is hardly a one-sided piece of policy. As for the COVID-19 lockdown, Fr. Meeks’ pitting the Church against science is deeply uncatholic and also manipulative, trying to use access to the sacraments as reasons to vote for Trump. Disgusting.
Number Four: A Joe Biden presidency opens the door for America tobecome a socialist country
Evidence for this assertion is in his signing on to the self-avowed socialist Bernie Sanders agenda. His selection as a running mate of Senator Kamala Harris, identified by bipartisan groups, by non-partisan groups, as the most leftist member of the U.S. Senate. His several months long silence on the murder and mayhem being inflicted on America’s cities by Marxist socialist organizations, as well as the all too obvious and serious influence being exercised within the Democratic Party by a leftist extremist. So why, you may ask, should that be an issue of concern to Catholics? One has only to consider the lessons of history and the teachings of the Pope’s to answer the question. For more than 200 years, wherever socialism has sought to gain a foothold, in France, following the French Revolution, in the twentieth century and today in Latin America and Eastern Europe and Asia or wherever, the socialists have you viewed the church, especially and specifically the Catholic Church, as an enemy to be destroyed or, at the very least, to be silenced and marginalized. Socialism is a soul robbing ideology that always and inevitably leads to totalitarianism, where the government presumes to put itself in the place of God in the lives of its subservient citizens. For this reason, socialism has been clearly and vigorously condemned and denounced by an unbroken string of no less than 11 consecutive posts from Pius the 9th in 1849, to Benedict XVI in 2005. Mob rule is one of the chief tactics and strategies of socialism, and, in a perverse twist of irony, the same socialist mobs who like to chant “silence is violence” reap the benefit of the several months-long silence of Joe Biden and his party, as the mobs carried out their orchestrated campaign violence in America’s cities. Again, Joe Biden is probably personally not a socialist, but he and the Democrat Party can validly be called out for giving aid, comfort and encouragement to those who are. Whether they be the demonic forces unleashed in the streets of America’s cities by Marxist nihilist anarchist revolutionaries
There are so many falsehoods here that I cannot address them all. Biden beat Sanders in the Democratic primary. The Democratic National Convention soundly dismissed most of the Sanders platform, such as Medicare for All. Kamala also opposed Sanders. This idea that there some proximity between Biden and Sanders is ridiculous. Sanders was an independent for most of his political life and Biden has made fun of that saying that Democrats should elect Democrats. Pay close attention to the “murder and mayhem” description of the protests and riots that followed the killing of George Floyd. The organization he is making reference to is Black Lives Matter Global Network. I have done a very close and detailed debunking of this Marxist accusation used by the right here. As for the Red Scare Anti-Black tactics, Martin Luther King Jr. was called a Marxist and a Socialist and was also accused of inciting riots and mayhem. Like this handwritten note:
Like COVID-19, Fr. Meeks shows no sympathy or grace for the dead. If this is pro-life then we must conclude that pro-life is a pro forma performance, not a real concern for life. Fr. Meeks tries to disguise his disgust for the Black activists in political insults like “mob rule” and “nihilist anarchist revolutionaries” but any person of colour will immediately detect a scent of white supremacy lurking in his rhetoric. I am not saying it is a dog whistle or that he is a white supremacist. It just smells like racism. On socialism, Fr. Meeks has a terrible command of the details and facts. The French Revolution was not socialism. Also, in Latin America especially, Fr. Meeks claims that socialism always opposes the Church is easily shown to be false in the numerous Catholic socialists and activists like St. Oscar Romero and Venerable Helder Camara and many, many more. For Eastern Europe, Fr. Meeks misses the entire Orange revolution which included Catholic Socialists as well. In the end, trying to say that totalitarian communism is the same as democratic and social democracy is a classic American Red Scare tactic, but it is also very stupid.
Number 5: Joe Biden’s positions on these four moral issues as a very high-prole Catholic subvert and undermine the faith
Joe Biden’s positions on these four moral issues as a very high-profile Catholic, a man who served in the U.S. Senate for more than three decades, then as Vice President for eight years, and now as a candidate for President, of very high-profile Catholic, his positions then serve to subvert and undermine the faith of nominal and poorly catechized Catholics, as for example, it gives rise to the effort, the misinformed effort, known as Catholics for Biden.
At least one of Biden’s campaign ads picture him with Pope Francis and with a group of smiling nuns in an effort to portray himself as a devout Catholic, and, by the way, when you have to tell people what a good Catholic you are, does that not make you question how good a Catholic the person really is? Ironically it’s another group of nuns, namely the LittleSisters of the Poor who would once again be targeted by a Biden Presidency for enforcement of the Obamacare mandate. Furthermore, Senator Kamala Harris, his running mate, is on record calling the Knights of Columbus “an all-male extremist group.” Extremistbecause of the Knights clear support of church teaching on the non-negotiables that were talking about here. And, by the way, Deacon Bud, Father Rob and I are members of the Knights of Columbus, and, yeah, we’re all male. What of it? I’ll leave it up to you to decide if we're also extremist. Also isn’t it interesting that the same leftist media which gives high praise to Joe Biden’s Catholicism, while characterizing the Catholicism of Judge Amy ConeyBarrett as dangerous and extremist? The perennial failure of any of our Bishops to call out Biden and many other Catholic politicians who publicly defy the churches most cherished moral teachings only serves to confuse many Catholics, and many others in our society, causing them to think Oh, I guess what he holds isn’t that bad. Isn’t that bad? The willful destruction of 61 million babies in the womb including, by the way, 23 million black babies, isn’t that bad? I asked you, what could be worse? In its document entitled Living the Gospel of Life, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops declared abortion to be the preeminent moral issue of our time. The right to life undergirds all other rights. That’s why it's mentioned first in the Declaration of Independence. And it represents governments' most important responsibility. So don’t let anyone, be he a priest, a bishop, or cardinal, tell you otherwise. Abortion is, I believe, spiritually speaking, both the primary cause and the primary symptom of a society in a downward death spiral. As I said, it’s time for faithful Catholics to stand up and say, enough is enough, to all officeholders and politicians who claim to be devout Catholics, while publicly and obstinately contradicting the church and subverting her teachings.
Suddenly, Fr. Meeks cares about Black people! But he only cares about them in order to instrumentalize them for his political speech masquerading as a homily. This is the sloppiest of the five-point and it essentially claims that because Joe Biden is a Roman Catholic, his presidency would undermine Catholicism. This makes as much sense as saying that Biden is anti-Catholic because he is a Roman Catholic Democrat. Here we see echoes of the Fr. Altman speeches and the deep desire of conservative US Catholic to excommunicate and cancel those who disagree with them. Well, Fr. Meeks has no jurisdiction over Biden. His unfocused final attack, that moves from saying that Biden is not Catholic because he is Catholic to again try to ensure that abortion is enshrined as the only real issue of importance, shows how desperate he really is and how that desperation allows him to violate Church teaching and directives in order to claim that Biden is violating Church teaching and directives. In this final point, we see that this homily truly is: a performative contradiction in every way, from the inside out.