Biden to meet Pope Francis in some rifts with US bishops

There is an interesting subplot for an upcoming meeting between President Joe Biden and Pope Francis. Even when Biden faces unwavering opposition from many US Catholic bishops about his position on abortion and LGBTQ rights, the two most prominent Roman Catholics in the world are church teachings and important social issues. Will celebrate a common outlook on.

Less than three weeks after Biden’s visit to Vatican on Friday, American bishops gathered in Baltimore, conservatives claiming that Biden’s support for the right to abortion would disqualify him from having an abortion. It is one of the agendas that was partly inspired by. It is not expected that Biden will be mentioned by name in the documents that appear, but there may be a clear message of reprimand.


“This is far more than embarrassing,” said Massimo Faggiori, a professor of historical theology at Villanova University, who recently wrote a book about Biden and Catholicism.

“For some bishops, it’s a threat to Biden,” Fajoli said. “And they have a pope guarding access to the Catholic president’s sacraments. He had to send a signal from the Vatican.” I don’t think this is wise. “

The Pope supports the Catholic doctrine of opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage, but by emphasizing other issues that are consistent with Biden’s priorities, such as environmental protection, racial injustice and the fight against poverty. , Offended conservative Catholics in the United States and elsewhere.

The Pope and Biden “look at many issues,” Fajoli said. “But they are both really embarrassed and face a very strong headwind … they are fighting different kinds of ideologies.”


Biden is the second Catholic President of the United States after John F. Kennedy, openly showing his faith, often wearing a rosary, and attending Mass regularly. Dedication dates back to childhood. He thanked the nuns for helping him build his confidence while suffering from stuttering as a schoolboy.

“There was a house wherever the nun was,” he wrote in his 2007 memoir, “Keeping the Promise.” “My thoughts on self, family, community and the wider world come directly from my religion.”

After his wife and baby daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972, his faith was tested, but not weakened.


“I didn’t doubt that God was there, but I was angry with God,” he told The Christian Science Monitor in 2007.

In that same interview, Biden explained why he considers himself a loyal Catholic, despite his view of abortion.

“My view is in perfect agreement with Catholic social doctrine,” Biden said. “If you are in conflict with any of the teachings of the church, there is an element in the church that you are in conflict with the church. I think the church is bigger than that.”

Francis has already made it clear that it will inevitably avoid US political leaders who support the right to abortion. On October 9, he met Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in the Vatican. Nancy Pelosi’s abortion stance aroused the wrath of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, the top Catholic in his hometown of San Francisco.

Cordileone has urged the Episcopal Conference in the United States to send Biden, Pelosi, and others the message that they will move them in their conscience.


“They need to understand the scandals that occur when they say they are faithfully Catholic, but they still oppose the church with such a basic concept,” he said in the Associated Press in April. Told to.

Under Catholic policy, the decision to exclude from communion is left to the individual bishop. Cordileone discouraged Pelosi from receiving communion in his Archdiocese, but Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington revealed that Biden would welcome communion when attending service there. I made it.

Francis was asked last month if Biden-like politicians should be denied communion, saying that the bishop must serve such people with “compassion and kindness,” “yes. Or “No” answer was avoided. He warned that priests should not be allowed to influence politics in their decisions about communion.


Abortion is not the only issue that causes Biden to oppose American bishops. He is a strong supporter of the proposed equality law, which extends federal civil rights protection to LGBTQ people across the country. Bishops say the bill, which is currently stalled in the Senate, will violate the freedom of religion of churches and individuals who oppose same-sex marriage and various transgender rights policies.

This week’s meeting is Biden’s first encounter with Francis since he became president, but he has met three times before. Later, during the 2015 visit to the United States by the Deities of Divinities. And in 2016, when Biden visited the Vatican for a conference on regenerative medicine, he talked about cancer prevention.

Francis has repeatedly reaffirmed its opposition to abortion in recent weeks, calling the procedure “murder” and defending the right of conscientious objectors to refuse participation. He likened abortion to “hiring a hitman” to solve the problem.


Chad Pecknold, a professor of theology at The Catholic University of America, suspects that the Pope will confront Biden in support of the right to abortion, but many Catholics (including bishops) say it will happen. He said he might want it.

“I think Catholics want this and have the right to express their concerns about Mr Biden’s soul,” Pecknold said.

The Biden-Francis visit stated, “While presenting themselves for communion, a clear and coherent view of how the bishop should respond to politicians who despise the teachings of the Church. I was able to really emphasize the urgent need to unite around, “Pecknold added in an email.

Stephen Millies, a professor of public theology at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, said the conference would influence the debate on communion and communion “in a way that produces a lot of heat and little light.” Discuss abortion with Biden.


“No one will go anywhere,” Millies said. “On the other hand, there is much to be achieved by focusing on areas of mutual interest and common interest.”

When Kennedy became the first Catholic president in 1960, abortion was not a splitting issue as it is today. Until 1973, with national rights to abortion, Kennedy did not feel the pressure to take a public position.

Anti-Catholic prejudice was common when Kennedy campaigned. Some Protestant ministers wondered if he could maintain independence from the Catholic Church.

Unlike Biden, Kennedy enjoyed overwhelming support from Catholic voters, winning about 80% of their votes in 1960, according to researchers at Georgetown University. Biden was endorsed by about half of Catholic voters in the 2020 elections.


New York Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed to this report.


The Associated Press’s religious coverage is supported by Lilly Endowment through The Conversation US. AP is solely responsible for this content.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Biden to meet Pope Francis in some rifts with US bishops

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