Newark Archbishop Says Might Be Easier to Vote for Biden than Trump
NEWARK — New Jersey's top Catholic prelate says members of the faith can vote for presidential candidate Joe Biden despite the Democratic Party's support for abortion rights — and seemed to take a dig at President Donald Trump.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin, the archbishop of Newark, was responding this week to statements made by other church officials who argued that faithful Catholics could not support Democrats.
Speaking on a webinar hosted by the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life, Tobin said that he believed "a person of good conscience could vote for Mr. Biden."
"I, frankly, in my own way of thinking, have a more difficult time with the other option," Tobin added.
Afterward, the Archdiocese of Newark released a written statement clarifying that Tobin "has neither endorsed nor opposed any candidate running for public office. He has simply reminded Catholics of our responsibility to take part in the elective process."
Biden is only the third Catholic to be nominated as a major-party presidential candidate. Democrat John Kerry was the second in 2004. John F. Kennedy has been the only Catholic to be elected to the White House.
Most Catholic presidential candidates in the U.S. have been Democrats, the Jesuit publication America Magazine reported. Biden competed against eight Catholics for his party's nomination this year. In 2016, six Catholics competed unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination.
Tobin's webinar discussed the responsibility of Catholic voters and how much weight any particular issue, such as abortion, should have on a voter's decision.
Tobin said that "no political party represents fully the Catholic moral tradition" and that unless a politician were running on a platform "advocating a holocaust" or "worldwide incineration," it would not be prudent to reduce a candidate to a single issue.
"We have to bring our whole Christian outlook and our moral tradition to bear on this choice that we make in November," he said.
The archdiocese's statement cited the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' guidance on "faithful citizenship," noting that a Catholic "cannot vote for a political candidate because he or she supports an issue considered an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion, euthanasia, deliberately subjecting workers or the poor to subhuman living conditions or assisted suicide.
"At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate's opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity."
During the webinar, the panel discussed how the theological term "intrinsically evil" has been exploited by anti-abortion activists, with Boston College law and theology professor M. Cathleen Kaveny pointing out that lying and masturbating are also "intrinsically evil" but there are no movements to make those acts illegal.
Tobin has criticized Trump before. In 2017, shortly after being installed as archbishop, he described the president's executive orders on immigration "the opposite of what it means to be an American."