The critical reader of Andy Divine’s latest essay, confronts his title and sub-title:
Our Very Catholic President
The strange miracle of Joe Biden
The first question is how long will Andy be so smitten with Joe Biden? But the second more complex question, that arises concerns the presidents attending mass at an Irish church, without fuss or fanfare. That produces this:
The anonymity was part of the point. At Mass, we are all equal; we are all sinners; there is no hierarchy among communicants; an American president has no more standing here than the old lady in a veil who has been coming for decades, or the homeless person who has wandered in, or the baby bawling in someone’s arms. Biden gets this in his bones, which accounts for this quiet but total adherence to Catholic norms. In this, his Catholicism is deep, even structural to his worldview. And, in my view, it helps explain a lot about him and his priorities — perhaps more acutely than any other lens.
He is immediately recognizable to many of us: the grandfather who carries a Rosary in his pocket, who prays sincerely and undemonstratively, and who has a big, open and warm heart, and a not-terribly-consistent mind. He is not pious outside of church: “I’m as much as a cultural Catholic as I am a theological Catholic. My idea of self, of family, of community, of the wider world comes straight from my religion.”
‘At Mass, we are all equal; we are all sinners; there is no hierarchy among communicants…’
Here is what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has to offer on the question of ‘We are all equal’ :
“The Church seeks to enable every person to live out the universal call to holiness. Persons with a homosexual inclination ought to receive every aid and encouragement to embrace this call personally and fully. This will unavoidably involve much struggle and self-mastery, for following Jesus always means following the way of the Cross…The Sacraments of the Eucharist and of Penance are essential sources of consolation and aid on this path.”
– USCCB, Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination (2006), p. 13
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for your selves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
– Matthew 11:28-30
Not content with just the three paragraphs I have quoted , Andy rambles but can’t help himself from speaking his Catholic conscious, to the neo-Marxism of Biden’s policies, while wishing for a ‘compassionate center’ as an alternative. What Andy defends is the status quo in theological finery, fueled by his careful, but maladroitly reconstructed, politics.
But I wish Biden could see more clearly that it is his Catholicism that could unite a political party around a compassionate center, rather than the neo-Marxism he has partly enabled. It offers a defense of greater support for the poor as a moral and not an ideological position; it provides a defense of environmentalism that could better appeal to non-leftists; it advocates inclusion not to undermine the fiction of “white supremacy” in the US in 2021, but to bring out the full capacities of every person, regardless of identity; it embraces sexual minorities by focusing on individual dignity rather than reducing them to sexual practices; it can make redistribution of wealth not a means to punish the rich but to enhance opportunity and dignity for the struggling; it can defend the police as essential to order, while tackling the abuse of some; and it can restrict immigration to better help integration of new Americans, while avoiding the cruelty that Trump deployed to such nefarious ends. Presenting policies in this rubric, without any theological language, also has the benefit of being far more consonant with Biden’s actual soul than his awkward adoption of woke mantras.https://andrewsullivan.substack.com/p/our-very-catholic-president?token=eyJ1c2VyX2lkIjo1MzQ5NjEsInBvc3RfaWQiOjM3ODcwMjUxLCJfIjoiTFlyeU8iLCJpYXQiOjE2MjQ3MjAxOTUsImV4cCI6MTYyNDcyMzc5NSwiaXNzIjoicHViLTYxMzcxIiwic3ViIjoicG9zdC1yZWFjdGlvbiJ9.8XfSs2UP23BnCSZ8XvAB9MbwTFnMHI6brb6Qz6Tabcw
Andy Divine speculation on ‘Biden’s actual soul ‘ leaves the reader in awe of his powers of perception, or just an exercise in a would be Metaphysics Made to Measure, transmogrified into a Politics.
‘Presenting policies in this rubric, without any theological language, also has the benefit of being far more consonant with Biden’s actual soul than his awkward adoption of woke mantras.’
* On the question of ‘Paul’ read Karl Barth’s ‘The Epistle To The Romans’ page 51 vv. 25-7 on homosexuality. The usual hysteria!