There is an interesting subplot to the upcoming meeting between President Joe Biden and Pope Francis. Even as Biden faces unwavering opposition from several American Catholic bishops about his position on abortion and LGBTQ rights, the teachings of the two most prominent Roman Catholic Churches in the world and important social issues remain. But let’s take a general approach.
Less than three weeks after Biden’s visit to the Vatican on Friday, US bishops gathered in Baltimore, with conservatives claiming Biden’s support for abortion rights would disqualify him from abortion. This is one of those agendas that was partly motivated. It is not expected that Biden will be named in the documents that emerge, but there could be a clear message of rebuke.
“It’s more than shameful,” said Massimo Fagiori, a professor of historical theology at Villanova University who recently wrote a book about Biden and Catholicism.
“For some bishops, this is a threat to Biden,” Fazoli said. “And they have a pope protecting the Catholic president’s access to the sacraments. He had to send a signal from the Vatican.” I don’t think it is wise. “
Pope supports the Catholic doctrine of opposing abortion and same-sex marriage, but by emphasizing other issues that are in line with Biden’s priorities, such as environmental protection, the fight against racial injustice and poverty. Angry Orthodox Catholics in the United States and elsewhere.
The Pope and Biden “look at a number of issues,” Fazoli said. “But they’re both really embarrassed and facing very strong headwinds… they’re fighting different kinds of ideologies.”
Biden is the second Catholic president of the United States, after John F. Kennedy, to openly show his faith, often wear rosaries, and regularly attend Mass. Surrender is from childhood. He thanked the nun for helping him build his confidence while suffering from stammering as a schoolboy.
“Where there was a nun, there was a house,” she wrote in her 2007 memoir, “Keeping the Promise.” “My thoughts on myself, family, community, and the wider world come directly from my religion.”
After the death of his wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972, his faith was tested but did not weaken.
“I didn’t suspect God was there, but I was angry with God,” he told The Christian Science Monitor in 2007.
In the same interview, Biden explained why he considers himself a faithful Catholic, despite his view of abortion.
“My view is in complete 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 greater than that.”
Francis has already made it clear that he will essentially avoid American political leaders who support abortion rights. On 9 October he met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi at the Vatican. Nancy Pelosi’s abortion stance sparked the wrath of top Catholic Archbishop Salvatore Cordillon in her hometown of San Francisco.
Cordillon has urged the Episcopal conference in the United States to send a message to Biden, Pelosi and others that they will transfer them at their discretion.
“They need to understand the scandals that happen when they say they are sincerely Catholic, but they still oppose the Church with such a core concept,” he told the Associated Press in April. . Was told.
Under Catholic policy, the decision to exclude from communion is left to the individual bishop. Cordillon discouraged Pelosi from receiving banquets in his archdiocese, but Washington’s Archbishop Wilton Gregory revealed that Biden would welcome the banquet while attending a service there. I made it.
Francis was asked last month whether politicians like Biden should be denied communion, saying the bishop should serve such people with “compassion and kindness,” avoiding a “yes.” or “no” answer. He warned that priests should not be allowed to influence politics in their decisions about communion.
Abortion isn’t the only issue Biden opposes to American bishops. He is a strong supporter of the proposed equality law, which provides federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people across the country. The bishops say the bill, which is currently pending in the Senate, would 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 meeting with Francis since becoming president, but they have met three times before. Later, in 2015 during a visit to the United States by the Gods of Gods. And in 2016, when Biden went to the Vatican for a conference on regenerative medicine, he talked about cancer prevention.
Francis has repeatedly reaffirmed opposition to abortion in recent weeks, calling the procedure “murder” and defending the right of conscientious objectors to deny participation. He compared abortion to “hiring a hitman” to solve the problem.
Chad Pecknold, professor of theology at the Catholic University of America, doubts that the Pope will confront Biden over abortion rights, but many Catholics (including the bishop) say it will. He said he might want it.
“I think Catholics want this and have a right to express their concerns about Biden’s spirit,” Pecknold said.
The Biden-Francis visit said, “presenting himself to the communion, a clear and coherent view of how bishops should respond to politicians who despise the teachings of the Church. I really want to unite.” was able to emphasize the urgent need of the U.S.,” Pecknold added in an email.
Stephen Millais, professor of public theology at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, said the convention “produces a lot of heat and little light in a way.” Discuss abortion with Biden.
“No one will go anywhere,” Millis said. “On the other hand, much remains 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 division issue as it is today. Until 1973, with national rights to abortion, Kennedy did not feel pressure to take a public position.
Anti-Catholic bias was common when Kennedy campaigned. Some Protestant ministers wondered whether he could maintain independence from the Catholic Church.
Unlike Biden, Kennedy was heavily supported by Catholic voters, garnering nearly 80% of the vote in 1960, according to Georgetown University researchers. Nearly half of Catholic voters supported Biden in the 2020 election.
New York Associated Press researcher Rhonda Schaffner contributed to this report.
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