Joe Biden, the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party, spoke to Pope Francis via phone on Thursday. Though the Vatican denied claims the pontiff had congratulated the former vice president, Pope Francis did express a desire to work with Biden on common agendas. More significant might be the issues that remained unspoken, like Biden’s pro-abortion agenda and a mutual interest in overlooking China’s human rights violations.
Pope Francis Blesses Biden
According to a transcript of the call, Biden thanked the pope for his “blessings and congratulations.”
“The president-elect expressed his desire to work together on the basis of a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities,” the transcript added.
The Vatican confirmed the call but offered no comment about the content. In confirming the call, the Vatican’s in-house media portal quoted a statement by the head of the U.S. bishops conference, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, in congratulating Biden.
“The American people have spoken in this election. Now is the time for our leaders to come together in a spirit of national unity and to commit themselves to dialogue and compromise for the common good,” Vatican News quoted Gomez as saying.
Biden: Catholic But Pro-Abortion
Biden has claimed to be a proud Catholic but his political views frequently go against those of his faith. Though Biden referred to abortion as an “essential health care service” in a conversation with Hillary Clinton in April, Pope Francis denounced this position explicitly in an address to the UN in September.
“Unfortunately, some countries and international institutions are also promoting abortion as one of the so-called ‘essential services’ provided in the humanitarian response to the pandemic,” the pope said, according to the Catholic News Agency.
But many Catholic clergy and laymen have rejected Biden due to his pro-abortion platform. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, tweeted on Tuesday that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris support “the slaughter of innocents” at any point during pregnancy.
In November 2019, a church in South Carolina declined to give the campaigning former vice president communion. The pastor, Robert Morey, cited Biden’s “unrepented, unforgiven sins”, in particular, his advocating for abortion.
Catholicism: Republican or Democratic? Or Is It All About China?
A survey of more than 110,000 voters nationwide conducted by VoteCast for The Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago reported that 50% of Catholic voters backed Trump and 49% favored Biden.
If elected Biden will become the second Roman Catholic president after Democrat John F. Kennedy was elected in 1961. Biden first met Pope Francis in 2013 at the pontiff’s inauguration in Vatican City. Pope Francis was a guest at the White House in September 2015.
The Vatican appears to be partisan regarding politics in the US. In September, the Vatican denied Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is Evangelical Presbyterian, an audience with Pope Francis. The Vatican accused Pompeo, who was traveling on a diplomatic mission, of using the meeting to attract voters ahead of the election. Pompeo met instead with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher to discuss the Vatican’s connections with China. Pompeo has been openly critical of the Vatican signing the 2018 nominations agreement with Beijing, seeming to give a tacit pass on China’s egregious human rights’ violations which include religious persecution of Muslim Uighurs, Christians, Catholics, and Falun Gong. The Trump administration has taken a hard line against China’s human rights violations and their offensive business practices which include theft of intellectual property. The Vatican’s overtures to the Democratic party may be due to Biden’s personal and political connections to China.