This fall, after the conservative Cardinal Raymond Burke said in an interview that Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden "certainly" was "not a Catholic in good standing" because of his vocal support for a right to abortion, confusion swirled. Some wondered whether a person who argues that terminating a pregnancy should be legal can be considered truly a Catholic at all, given the Church's teachings on the sanctity of life. Enter CNA Editor's Desk, a podcast from the Catholic News Agency (CNA) for people who take questions like this seriously.
The weekly show, which features two canon lawyers turned journalists breaking down the news from a Catholic perspective, had posted an episode delving into Biden's Catholicism even before Burke's comment reignited interest in the subject. To the extent the former vice president rejects the Church's doctrine that life begins at conception, CNA editors J.D. Flynn and Ed Condon noted, he may well be guilty of heresy. And to the extent that his advocacy of abortion rights qualifies as "obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin," he likely should not be admitted to Holy Communion.
At the same time—and contrary to the claims of some of Biden's less judicious critics—nothing can render a person, once baptized into the Church, "no longer" a Catholic. And voters ultimately must decide for themselves how to weigh the various flaws, religious or otherwise, of the various candidates for any office.
Parsing issues at the intersection of current affairs and the world's largest religious denomination is no easy task. Whether teasing out the implications of a Supreme Court decision or shedding light on the latest Vatican financial scandal, Flynn and Condon help listeners cut through the noise, and one need not be Catholic to be enlightened by their thinking.