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Pope Francis questioned President Biden’s conscience Tuesday in an interview during which he described the commander-in-chief’s religious identity and views on abortion as inconsistent.
“A month after conception, the fetus’s DNA is already there and the organs are aligned. There is human life,” the pontiff said in an interview with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision.
When asked about Biden – a self-styled “devout Catholic” who supports the general legalization of abortion at the federal level – the pope dismissed the president as incomprehensible.
“A month after conception, the fetus’s DNA is already there and the organs are aligned. There is human life,” the pope said in an interview with Univision. “Is it just to eliminate a human life?”
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He added that Biden should instead question his own conscience and consult with his bishop.
“I let it go [President Biden’s] conscience and that he speaks to his bishop, his pastor, his pastor about this inconsistency “, the pope remarked.
The pope has hesitated to meddle directly in politics since the beginning of his pontificate, fearing to transform the Holy See into a normal secular world power.
Instead, Pope Francis has taken on a more pastoral role through his encyclicals and his apostolic journeys, many of which are of historical content.
The Holy Father is currently finalizing preparations for a trip to Canada, after which he has pledged to visit war-torn Ukraine. The first ever apostolic trip to Moscow is also under discussion, should the Russian authorities allow it.
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Pope Francis’ resistance to passing orders to leaders of other nations is not a new concept.
Under Catholic canon law, bishops are the ultimate governing authority in their diocese, unless the pope intervenes personally.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains: “The diocesan Bishop in the diocese entrusted to him has all the ordinary, proper and immediate powers necessary for the exercise of his pastoral function, except in cases in which the law or a decree of the Supreme Pontiff reserves the supreme authority or other ecclesiastical authority “.
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While the Bishop of Rome is the final authority on contested religious doctrine, Pope Francis has endeavored to stay out of local or national deliberations on Church governance whenever possible.
The office of bishop is endowed with extensive responsibilities and powers. Perhaps most important is the bishop’s responsibility for the pastoral care of Catholics and former Catholics in his jurisdiction.
According to canon law, “The diocesan bishop, often preaching in person, is obliged to propose and explain to the faithful the truths of faith that must be believed and applied to morality”.
Canon law continues: “He should also ensure that the prescriptions of the canons on the ministry of the word, especially those on the homily and catechetical instruction, are scrupulously observed, so that all Christian doctrine is transmitted to all”.
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However, the pope may not see the canonical corrections he wishes for Biden without intervening: Biden and his family attend the Church of the Holy Spirit in the archdiocese of Washington, DC.
The archdiocese is overseen by Cardinal Wilton Gregory, who said he would not excommunicate a politician for defending the right to abortion.
The cardinal has been so opposed to addressing the issue further that his office accidentally let slip that they are “ignoring” media questions.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, DC mistakenly sent an email to a reporter asking for comment on its position regarding the Archbishop of San Francisco’s decision to block House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.that he received Holy Communion because of his stance on abortion after Pelosi was to receive Communion in Washington on Sunday.
“I’m sharing just to let you know what’s coming,” the email stated. “The email since Saturday, when I last checked my communications inbox, there were only a couple of random people who wanted to tell the Cardinal to take down Pelosi. Aside from RNS’s Jack Jenkins, this is the new media investigation. It will be ignored, too. “
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Speaking of the responsibility of managing one of the oldest living institutions in the world and the resulting politics, the pontiff was open about his weariness.
“The Holy Spirit gives you many fruits, but no one ever talks about the things that make you numb,” lamented the pope. “And sometimes you feel numb in the face of situations that should make you suffer a lot and make you move, without missing the opportunity.”