Biden is the most prominent Catholic in America. The church’s most conservative wish was not.

WASHINGTON — When President Joe Biden on Friday met Pope Francis at the Vatican, he presented the pope with a 100-year-old hand-woven cloak from a church in the nation’s capital with a long history and liberal streak.

But it wasn’t the priestly apparel that sent the strongest message. It was the box it came in, engraved with a Bible verse that says in part, “…if any of you have a complaint against someone… [f]Forgive as the Lord has forgiven you.”

This can be seen as an implicit reference to the battle in which Biden, the second Roman Catholic to be elected president, found himself entangled back home over the future of the faith he ascribes to his whole life.

As the Catholic Church in the United States tries to find a foothold after years of scandal and increasingly empty seats, a battle between the conservative and progressive wings that reflects partisan divisions across the country has spilled over into public opinion. Although most seem to agree that the fight is bigger than Biden, the president is at the center of what church historians say is an inflection point due to his support for legal abortion, a view that aligns with but breaks with the Democratic Party he leads. his church.

American bishops proposed to deprive Biden of communion, the essential element of the faith’s doctrine.

“Biden openly espouses political positions that are in direct conflict with the Church’s core teachings,” said Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow at the Conservative Catholic League. “The church doesn’t really have the option to remain silent.”

In June, the American Conference of Catholic Bishops dedicated its national meeting to discussing Biden and his public support for abortion rights. The Catholic Church opposes abortion and teaches that life begins with conception. The sacrament of the Eucharist is at the core of the practice of the Catholic faith, and is evidence that they believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that wine and bread are transformed into his actual body and blood.

The bishops decided to draft a document that would advise priests what to do when pro-choice politicians attend their churches. The bishops will meet again in November to reconsider the issue and are likely to make formal recommendations.

A source who advised some of the bishops working on the document said the draft being circulated would not name Biden. The source requested anonymity to speak frankly about the bishops’ deliberations.

The source said the document would not require priests to deprive anyone of the Eucharist, but would seek to use Biden – or politicians like him – as an example of how Catholicism should not be practiced.

Biden, who attends Divine Liturgy every weekend and has made his faith a central part of his personal story, has remained silent in the fight. He did not comment publicly on the bishops’ meeting or did not respond when other prominent church leaders publicly criticized him, including from the pulpit.

When asked Friday if Pope Francis, who has also been a target of American bishops who consider him insufficiently conservative and even illegitimate, asked him to continue receiving Communion, Biden replied simply: “Yes.”

“If Joe Biden is excluded from communion, it would be another step in the escalation of the hyper-partisanship that is incredibly visible in the Catholic Church in this country right now,” said Massimo Fagioli, a professor of theology at Villanova University. “So they say this is not to help Biden, but to help Catholicism not fall into the sectarian trap.”

To the outsider, Biden’s election to the White House would have seemed the culmination of the achievement of integrating American Catholics into the fabric of the nation. But not for church governors.

“He’s a very confusing figure for American Catholics because he’s cracked down big on his faith and Catholicism and at the same time he’s kind of overtly mocking the church’s teaching,” McGuire said of Biden.

When John F. Kennedy, as the first Catholic president, was seen as a foreign religion – with an American head of state in danger of being controlled by a foreign pope. The year Kennedy took office, Biden graduated from a Catholic high school in Wilmington, Delaware, a city with a large population of Irish, Italian, and Polish Catholics who were probably glad to see one in the Oval Office.

By 2020, Biden’s faith was not considered foreign and was primarily an electoral issue. And he’s not alone in Washington: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is also a Catholic Almost a third of the members of Congress and two-thirds of the Supreme Court members, including conservative justices Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Connie Barrett, who speak frankly She expressed her belief during her confirmation hearings.

“Joe Biden’s life extended primarily to this period in church history in America, from the time when the church was what might be described as very Unitarian and highly faithful priests, when seminaries were teeming with new priests, and Catholic churches were full, to the point where today there are Church consolidation and church closings, you know, seminaries are being emptied, all these kinds of problems.” said Brian Burch, president of

Using Biden now to show Catholics how not to practice Catholicism was an abstention from those advocating his exclusion from communion, according to several people who spoke about the internal debate on the condition of anonymity to provide insights into their discussions.

For the Orthodox or conservative wing of the Catholic Church, the Biden and abortion controversy is about the future of the faith itself, which they see has become something different in Europe, as heavily Catholic nations become more secular and the church’s presence there has waned as well. . They worry that the church will be stripped of its core principles and replaced with liberal and sectarian ideologies.

The church’s sexual abuse scandal—and the failure of the Catholic Church’s leadership to expel priests who were known to abuse children—is often blamed for the shrinking number of parishioners.

Some church historians argue that as the seating numbers dwindled, so did the influence of the tougher attendees who remained, including those who might see Biden deny Communion.

“It’s a serious crisis,” Fagioli said. “It’s not just a crisis of credibility, because of the sexual assault crisis, but it’s a Catholic crisis.”

Fagioli and Stephen Millis, a professor at the Catholic Theological Union, one of the largest English-speaking Catholic schools of theology, argue that there was indeed an irreconcilable separation between the American Catholic leadership and the head of the Church in Rome. American church leaders have become increasingly comfortable with criticism of the Pope as being too liberal, focused too much on issues like climate change and too willing to let Catholics like Biden go unchecked.

In the short term, Millis saw a sign in the gift Francis gave Biden about efforts to prevent divisions within the church from widening. Among the gifts given to the president was a copy of Fratelli Totti, the Pope’s writing on human fraternity that Biden frequently quoted during the election campaign.

“It’s a very important document,” said Melis. “It fundamentally reformulated Catholic social teachings, and we’ll be talking about it for decades.” “So it is [Francis] He thinks about politics and social society. Francis has consistently called for a “better kind of politics” since his election, and Fratelli Totti makes the issue partly.”

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Related posts