– Catholic Herald, Rome – Pope Francis congratulated US President Joseph R. Biden on his inauguration, offering prayers for his success in office and expressing hope that Biden’s leadership will foster “understanding, reconciliation, and peace” in the United States and around the world.
“On the occasion of your inauguration as the fourty-sixth President of the United States of America,” Pope Francis wrote in the message, “I extend cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office.”
“Under your leadership,” Pope Francis wrote, “may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding.”
“I likewise ask God, the source of all wisdom and truth, to guide your efforts to foster understanding, reconciliation and peace within the United States and among the nations of the world,” Pope Francis prayed, “in order to advance the universal common good.”
“At a time when the grave crises facing our human family call for farsighted and united responses,” Pope Francis also wrote in the message, “I pray that your decisions will be guided by a concern for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom, together with unfailing respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice.”
The president of the US bishops conference, Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, echoed those sentiments in a statement on Wednesday.
In the statement, Archbishop Gomez cites Mr. Biden’s “piety and personal story, his moving witness to how his faith has brought him solace in times of darkness and tragedy, his longstanding commitment to the Gospel’s priority for the poor,” all of which he says he finds “hopeful and inspiring.”
Archbishop Gomez also reiterated the bishops’ opposition to many of the policies and legislative promises Biden has made.
Biden has “pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender.” Archbishop Gomez went on to say “the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences” are matters “of deep concern” to him and the bishops of the United States.
“[T]he continued injustice of abortion,” Archbishop Gomez wrote, “remains the ‘preeminent priority’.”
Archbishop Gomez called on President Biden to work with the Church and others of goodwill on a range of issues, expressing the hope that Biden will begin a “dialogue” with them “to address the complicated cultural and economic factors that are driving abortion and discouraging families.”
“If the president, with full respect for the Church’s religious freedom, were to engage in this conversation, it would go a long way toward restoring the civil balance and healing our country needs,” Archbishop Gomez wrote.
The message from the Archbishop of Los Angeles and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops came several hours later than expected, and after reports began to circulate that the Vatican’s Secretariat of State had blocked the message.
Requests for clarification from the Catholic Herald to the Press Office of the Holy See have not received a reply, but Archbishop Gomez’s statement appeared on the USCCB website shortly after the Press Office of the Holy See published Pope Francis’s message.