A Tale of Two Catholics

President-elect Joe Biden and newly-minted Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett are both Catholic. But, their Catholic faith has been treated quite differently by those in the media.

We have heard over and over again from journalists how Joe Biden attends Mass every Sunday and carries a rosary in his pocket (though, I’ve not read any articles that mention that he actually prays that rosary). We have heard of Biden’s claim that nuns inspired him to run for president. We have heard how Biden’s Catholic faith provided comfort and consolation during the various tragedies he has suffered, including the deaths of his first wife and his son, Beau. We have heard how his Catholic faith inspires his compassion and his desire to unite the country. All in all, there’s no question that the media have reported on Biden’s Catholic faith as a positive thing.

For Amy Coney Barrett, not so much. Most of the reporting on Barrett’s Catholicism has focused on her being a member of the People of Praise, an inter-denominational Christian (though overwhelmingly Catholic) group whose members hold each other accountable to living the principles of the gospel. Barrett’s association with People of Praise has raised concerns, as the group was falsely identified by Newsweek and other media outlets as the inspiration for Margaret Atwood’s novel “A Handmaid’s Tale”. Women dressed as characters from the book to protest Barrett’s nomination during her Senate confirmation hearings. Barrett has been called an extremist, the mother of seven children who desires that all women follow her example of apparent subservience to the roles of wife and mother. When being questioned by the Senate for the position of judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, it was pointed out that some were apprehensive of her Catholic faith, wondering if she would be able to remain impartial as a judge, given that, as Sen. Dianne Feinstein said, “the dogma lives loudly within you.”

It’s no mystery as to the root of this double standard regarding the media’s delight in Biden’s Catholicism and disdain for Barrett’s. Biden is very public about his Catholic faith and very public about his opposition to the Church’s teaching on number of central articles of morality, including abortion, birth control, same-sex marriage, gender ideology, and religious freedom. Barrett is much more reserved publicly about her faith, but it is well known that she is devoted to the Church’s teachings on all of these matters.

Since the overwhelming number of journalists in this country lean liberal – and very liberal at that – it’s no surprise they support the kind of Catholicism Biden practices, a Catholicism that exhibits all the trappings of devotion while taking a stand in favor of the policy positions of the left and against the moral teachings of a Church still chained to the morality of the Dark Ages. They use words like “compassionate,” “healing,” “devout,” “empathetic,” to describe the kind of Catholic Biden is. They like to suggest that such Catholics are following the lead of Pope Francis, as if the Holy Father were encouraging dissent from moral teaching with the same enthusiasm they do.

When the subject is Barrett’s Catholicism, however, the type of words the media use are “religious extremist,” “Christian Nationalist,” and they openly wonder if she will attempt to impose her faith on the country. Catholics who are committed not only to going to Mass on Sunday, but to the faith informing their morality and their public life, raise concerns over how much they will allow their faith to impact their policies. Apparently, in the minds of these elites, the only “faith” that is allowed to impact public policy is no faith at all.

The truth is, all citizens of this country, including those of faith, are empowered to participate in the political life of the country according to the principles that inform their hearts and minds. There is no law or constitutional imperative that people of faith displace or put down their faith when engaged in the political process or when attempting to influence or mold public policy. People of faith have as much right to vote their conscience as any other, and to encourage their government to adopt public policy that is consistent with the values and principles of their faith. Indeed, not only do they have the right to do so, they have a duty to do so.

The double standard and hypocrisy practiced by media elites is shameful. Catholics ought to be wary of desiring to please those who have little concern for our Catholic faith other than how quickly we are willing to abandon it for the sake of supporting their political and social agenda.

Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.

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