NEW YORK – In his first message to President Joe Biden, the new leader of the Catholic bishops in the United States has rebuked the president’s recent assertion that some prelates and Pope Francis himself do not oppose taxpayer funding of abortion.

A reporter recently told Biden that “Catholic bishops are demanding that federal tax dollars not fund abortion,” to which the president replied, “No they are not all doing that. Nor is the Pope doing that.”

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services and who was elected President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in November, issued a statement saying Biden’s comments ignore the Catholic Church’s “clear and consistent” teaching that human life is sacred, and that “God calls us to defend and nurture life from the moment a new human being is conceived.”

Broglio insisted that the U.S. bishops are in lockstep on the issue.

“The Catholic bishops of the United States are united in our commitment to life, and will continue to work as one body in Christ to make abortion unthinkable,” the archbishop said. “As the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has said, ‘It is not right to ‘do away with’ a human being, however small, in order to solve a problem. It is like hiring a hitman.’”

Broglio said at the time of his election in November that he would welcome a meeting with Biden, whose simultaneous public devotion to the Catholic faith and pro-abortion stance has created a contentious relationship with the U.S. episcopacy since he took office.

Broglio’s predecessor, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, created controversy in November 2021 after he said that then president-elect Biden’s pro-abortion stance was a “difficult and complex situation” that created “confusion with the faithful about what the church actually teaches.”

The comments came with an unprecedented announcement of the creation of a working group that would navigate the relationship between Biden and the U.S. bishops, which led to another months-long controversy over whether or not pro-abortion politicians who support abortion could receive communion.

For his part, Broglio hasn’t addressed Biden directly in statement through his first two-plus months as USCCB president, outside of his comments in the initial news conference.

The archbishop emphasized in the Feb. 1 statement that the taxpayer funding of abortion “would force people of good conscience to participate in this grave evil against their will.” Biden has been a vocal supporter for overturning the longstanding Hyde Amendment, which has prevented taxpayer funding of abortion at the federal level since it passed in 1976.

“[The taxpayer funding of abortion] would contradict our right to live in accord with the tenets of our faith. Our nation is better than that,” Broglio said. “I pray that we will protect every child no matter his or her age, and open our hearts to respond to mothers in need with love and support rather than the violence of abortion.”

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