As Joe Biden prepared to be inaugurated as the 46th U.S. president, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed hope the incoming administration “will work with the church and others of goodwill” 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’s needs,” Archbishop Gomez said.
For the U.S. bishops, the “continued injustice of abortion” remains the “preeminent priority,” he said, but “‘preeminent’ does not mean ‘only.’ We have deep concerns about many threats to human life and dignity in our society.”
Archbishop Gomez also said in a Jan. 20 statement that he was praying for Biden, the country’s second Catholic president, as he enters office so that God grants “him wisdom and courage to lead this great nation and … to meet the tests of these times.”
In particular, the archbishop said he was praying God will help Biden “heal the wounds caused by the pandemic, to ease our intense political and culture divisions, and to bring people together with renewed dedication to America’s founding purposes, to be one nation under God committed to liberty and equality for all.”
The USCCB leader’s comments came hours before inaugural ceremonies on the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
“I look forward to working with President Biden and his administration, and the new Congress,” Archbishop Gomez said.
“As with every administration, there will be areas where we agree and work closely together and areas where we will have principled disagreement and strong opposition,” he said.
While the bishops work with “every president and every Congress,” they can find themselves on some issues “more on the side of Democrats, while on others we find ourselves standing with Republicans,” he said.
“Our priorities are never partisan,” he explained. “We are Catholics first, seeking only to follow Jesus Christ faithfully and to advance his vision for human fraternity and community.”
Pope adds prayers for President Biden, United States
Pope Francis prayed that President Joe Biden would work to heal the divisions in U.S. society and promote human dignity and peace around the globe.
“Under your leadership, may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding,” the pope wrote in a congratulatory message Jan. 20 as Biden was inaugurated as the 46th president of the United States.
Popes traditionally have sent such messages and assurances of prayer to a new U.S. president upon his inauguration and have included mention of issues of concern, particularly about the dignity of every human life.
“At a time when the grave crises facing our human family call for farsighted and united responses,” Pope Francis wrote to Biden, “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.”
“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 in order to advance the universal common good,” he said.
Pope Francis also prayed that Biden, his family and “the beloved American people” would receive “an abundance of blessings.”