DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis and Joseph Biden are the world's most prominent Catholics, albeit both have challenged Catholics' understanding of the teachings of their Church on matters such as abortion and homosexuality.
While the pope will probably not congratulate Biden until inauguration day, the bishops of the United States have eschewed diplomacy by calling him president-elect merely because legacy media says so.
This raises the question: Why are U.S. bishops and ultimately the pope so pleased by a Biden presidency? After all, the bishops were joined by Planned Parenthood in congratulating Biden and equally pro-abortion running mate Sen. Kamala Harris. Planned Parenthood tweeted: "The work is just getting started. Today we celebrate; tomorrow we get to work."
Clues to the bishops' position can be found not only in their criticisms of President Donald Trump's policies, but also in papal statements. For example, just months after his election to the papacy in 2013, Francis said that Catholics should not be "obsessed" by issues such as abortion, contraception and homosexuality.
In his lengthy, meandering encyclical on universal brotherhood, Fratelli Tutti, Francis cites his controversial "human fraternity" covenant with Islam, and five times names co-signatory Grand Imam Ahmad al-Tayyeb. While decrying war, capital punishment, immigration controls, poverty, pandemics, and hunger, he does not mention abortion as an act of violence.
In the encyclical Laudato Sí, Francis embraces the theory of global climate change, while criticizing unfettered profit-making as a cause of environmental degradation. In 2015, Francis applauded the Paris environmental accord, which he said will serve to "preserve our common home." This was a theme repeated during the 2019 Amazon Synod.
Joining the pope, U.S. bishops have strongly criticized Trump's immigration policies and for pulling out of the Paris climate accord. They have shown little praise for his pro-life policies and diplomatic achievements.
As president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Gomez repeated a theme of ending national divisions, which is often used by Biden and fellow Democrats, saying: "We thank God for the blessings of liberty. 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."
In the statement, no observation whatsoever is made of Biden's fervent advocacy of abortion or to his reversing his position on the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal dollars for abortion in most cases. Biden has also promised to reverse Trump's executive orders to secure the safety of unborn human life.
Frequently mentioning his Catholic identity, Biden wrote in his book Promises to Keep, "I'm as much a cultural Catholic as I am a theological Catholic. My idea of self, of family, of community, of the wider world comes straight from my religion. It's not so much the Bible," Biden wrote, "the Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, the sacraments, or the prayers I learned. It's the culture." According to reports, he carries a Rosary in his pocket.
In a campaign video that was released during Holy Week this year, Biden quoted existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, who said that "Faith sees best in the dark," and added that his faith saw him through the death of his wife and son. He has claimed that the Church taught him that "faith without works is dead."
Francis' Fratelli Tutti mentions war but not the violence of abortion. Under the heading "War and the Death Penalty," the pope writes: "We can no longer think of war as a solution because its risks will probably always be greater than its supposed benefits. In view of this, it is very difficult nowadays to invoke the rational criteria elaborated in earlier centuries to speak of the possibility of a 'just war.' Never again war!"
Regarding migration, he wrote: "Then too, in some host countries, migration causes fear and alarm, often fomented and exploited for political purposes. This can lead to a xenophobic mentality, as people close in on themselves, and it needs to be addressed decisively." Migrants are not seen as entitled like others to participate in the life of society, and it is forgotten that they possess the same intrinsic dignity as any person. Hence they ought to be "agents in their own redemption."
Linking his concern over war and environmentalism, Francis linked it to capitalism. Development must not aim at the amassing of wealth by a few but must ensure "human rights — personal and social, economic and political, including the rights of nations and of peoples." The right of some to free enterprise or market freedom cannot supersede the rights of peoples and the dignity of the poor, or, for that matter, respect for the natural environment, for "if we make something our own, it is only to administer it for the good of all."
When they saluted Biden, they did not mention his record on war. In the 1990s, then-Senator Biden co-sponsored a resolution authorizing the air strikes against civilians in Yugoslavia, even though President Bill Clinton and NATO violated international law by targeting civilians with bombing not authorized by the U.N. Security Council. Biden also did not object to President Clinton's bombing of Libya, which included the destruction of the Chinese embassy.
In 2002, Biden joined 76 other senators to authorize President George W. Bush to prosecute a war against Iraq. Later, as vice president, Biden forcefully backed President Barack Obama's intervention in Libya. While Biden was vice president, the Obama administration prosecuted war in Afghanistan and Syria.
However, the American bishops expressed little congratulations to President Trump for, while not engaging in new wars:
On top of that, Trump negotiated a peace accord between Israel and Muslim nations, as well as an agreement between North and South Korea. Are these not in accord with much of Catholic teaching about the value of human life?
So why so much hoopla from bishops about Biden? And where do Pope Francis and Biden agree? Biden has announced that on his first day in office he will return to the Paris agreement on climate change (in reality, a transfer of income to China), and legalize thousands of illegal immigrants.
Which raises other questions: Why is it that Pope Francis calls abortion, which has claimed more than 36 million human lives worldwide this year alone, an obsession?
What one can conclude from the above is that secular thinking has infiltrated the institutional Church, where Manichaean intellectual elites hold sway over presumably credulous pewsitters and which is totally at odds with the Magisterium of ages.