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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pope Francis, who snubbed Donald Trump by refusing to congratulate him after his 2016 victory, has phoned Joe Biden to offer "congratulations and blessings" despite the fiercely contested election results.
The Holy See Press Office confirmed the pontiff's Thursday morning conversation with Biden, which, it said, "followed the congratulations of the U.S. bishops to Biden" as the "second Catholic president of the country after John F. Kennedy."
Biden thanked Francis "for extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation for His Holiness' leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation and the common bonds of humanity around the world."
A statement from the Biden-Harris team said: "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 Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI) news media gushed with praise for Biden, contrasting his inclusive vision of Catholicism as offering "exactly the opposite of the unmediated use of religious references and symbols that characterized the Trump presidency (and beyond)."
"Both in private life and in the public sphere, Biden — as opposed to Trump, muscular and provocative — has shown that he is a man of reconciliation," the column for Avvenire by Catholic sociologist Mauro Magatti asserted. "Allergic to strong tones, the new president has a strong aptitude for mediation and the search for a common solution," he notes.
Papal biographer and political scientist Paul Kengor told Church Militant that "if it's indeed accurate that Pope Francis never congratulated Donald Trump, then this does seem a double standard. This will further fuel suspicions of Francis as favoring liberals and a leftist political agenda while disregarding conservatives."
Professor Kengor, author of A Pope and a President: John Paul II, Ronald Reagan, and the Extraordinary Untold Story of the 20th Century, elaborated:
Francis is already seen as too political. This doesnt help. You need not be a flag-waving Trumpist to be troubled by an apparent double standard that doesn't seem gracious by our pope. It reminds me of the administration at Notre Dame University, which invited Barack Obama to speak and gave him an honorary degree but snubbed President Trump — and will no doubt roll out the red carpet for a President Biden.
Biden has not been officially declared "President-Elect," let alone "President," as evidence of industrial-scale voter fraud is being brought before the U.S. courts.
According to Amendment XX of the U.S. Constitution, "The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January."
"Whether he likes it or not, and whether he wins re-election or not, Trump's current term as president will end Jan. 20. What happens next is yet unknown, but at least that much is certain," writes historian Donald G. Nieman.
Eulogizing Biden, Avvenire emphasized that the Democrat politician "has never hidden that he is a Catholic. In many interviews, including recent ones, the new American president referred to faith as the basic compass of his personal life and his political orientations."
It also fudges Biden's support for abortion, arguing that in handling the "delicate relationship between the religious and political spheres" there is "always the risk of sacrificing important aspects, with respect to issues such as abortion, to give a crucial example, for reasons of political expediency."
The European Center for Law and Justice lists a raft of Trump's anti-abortion policies —which led surgeon, U.S. Army officer and Washington nun Sr. Deirdre "Dede" Byrne of the Little Workers of the Sacred Hearts to describe Trump as "the most pro-life president that this nation has ever had."
In contrast, Biden-Harris has been called "the most pro-abortion ticket in history." The 2020 Democrat manifesto promises to "restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood," "oppose and fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to women's reproductive health and rights" and "repeal the Hyde Amendment, and protect and codify Roe v. Wade."
"We believe that comprehensive health services, including access to reproductive care and abortion services, are vital to the empowerment of women and girls," the manifesto insists.
In 2016, instead of the traditional felicitations following Trump's victory, Pope Francis had tweeted: "There is need for everyone to work to change the global situation, which is in a situation of severe lacerations and great conflict."
When atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari asked Pope Francis what he thought of the new president, the pontiff replied a day after Trump's election: "I do not pass judgment on people and politicians, I simply want to understand the suffering their approach causes the poor and excluded."
Snubbing the newly elected U.S. head of state, Vatican Secretary of State Cdl. Pietro Parolin instead offered greetings to Trump stating via Vatican Radio: "The Lord illuminates and sustains him in service of his country, naturally, but also in service of the well-being and peace of the world."