President Joe Biden speaks during the White House Correspondents dinner at the Washington Hilton in Washington, D.C., on April 27, 2024. / Credit: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

ACI Prensa Staff, Apr 29, 2024 / 16:52 pm (CNA).

U.S. president Joe Biden has come under fire for making the sign of the cross during a rally criticizing measures that restrict abortion.

Among his critics are José Ignacio Munilla, the bishop of Orihuela-Alicante in Spain, who called Biden’s gesture a “sacrilege.”

Biden went to Tampa, Florida, on April 23 for a campaign stop one week before a law restricting abortion in the state from 15 to six weeks of gestation was due to go into effect.

While a Biden supporter on stage criticized Florida governor and former Republican candidate for president Ron DeSantis for signing the bill, Biden made the sign of the cross.

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On his weekday radio program on Radio María España, Munilla said that making the sign of the cross in support of abortion constitutes a “sacrilegious” gesture and “the desecration of the sign of the cross.”

“Invoking Jesus Christ in support of abortion” has drawn strong criticism “in many pro-life and Catholic circles,” the bishop pointed out.

Crossing oneself, Munilla said, is meant to be used as a sign “in which we remember that Jesus gave his life for us, he gave his life for all the innocents, he gave his life to restore innocence and to make us saints.” 

To use the sign of the cross as Biden did, however, is to “invoke the cross in a sacrilegious manner.”

Referring to the incident, the Spanish prelate warned of the risk that a Catholic might publicly show his faith by crossing himself while at the same time twisting its meaning “in a sacrilegious manner.”

Munilla questions moral stature of Biden, Trump

In addition to commenting on the incident, the prelate also offered a critical analysis of the two contenders for president of the United States, Biden and former president Donald Trump.

“In a nation like the United States, shouldn’t there be [candidates] from both the Democratic Party as well as the Republican Party with enough moral stature to properly represent their parties to the electorate?” he asked. In his opinion, both Biden and Trump lack that moral stature.

“Consider what Biden represents with his deteriorating condition, even psychologically, to run for president again with this absolute desecration of his own (purportedly Catholic) values, having made the cause of abortion, the spread of abortion throughout the world, almost his highest value,” Munilla said, commenting on the incumbent president.

Regarding Trump, Munilla noted that “although he has defended the pro-life cause — not totally, but in fact in a forceful way — he is involved in many [court] cases in which his moral stature has undoubtedly been seriously affected.”

Munilla prayed that the Lord “would raise up vocations to public life so that there are truly young people who, with a life of integrity consistent with their values, have as their only watchword, as the only driving force of their entering into political life, the desire to serve the common good.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.