The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement condemning President Joe Biden’s abortion agenda as Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States Wednesday.
“I must point out that our new President 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,” Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez said.
“Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.”
Biden is the second Catholic U.S. president and received contrasting messages from Gomez and Pope Francis.
“At a time when the grave crises facing our human family call for farsighted and united responses, 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,” Pope Francis said in his message.
The contrasting statements resumed a debate among U.S. bishops who are divided on the direction of Catholicism and how it fits in with partisan politics, The Washington Post reported.
Biden regularly attends church and references Catholic teachings and culture, but still pursues policies that conflict with Catholic teachings.
Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a mass held at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington, D.C., prior to Biden’s inauguration, and it is unclear if they took communion.
Biden was denied communion by a South Carolina priest during his campaign, and in August, Cardinal Raymond Burke said the former vice president shouldn’t receive communion because he wasn’t a Catholic “in good standing.”
Biden supported the Hyde Amendment for decades, saying that Americans shouldn’t have to pay for procedures they oppose. But he has also argued that Americans shouldn’t be forced to embrace Catholicism’s view of abortion.
Although Gomez welcomed Biden and said it would be “refreshing to engage with a President who clearly understands, in a deep and personal way the importance of religious faith and institutions,” he did warn about the president’s stance on abortion.
“Abortion is a direct attack on life that also wounds the woman and undermines the family. It is not only a private matter, it raises troubling and fundamental questions of fraternity, solidarity, and inclusion in the human community. It is also a matter of social justice,” Gomez said in his statement.
“We cannot ignore the reality that abortion rates are much higher among the poor and minorities, and that the procedure is regularly used to eliminate children who would be born with disabilities.”
Gomez’s statement was met with contempt from other bishops, according to The Washington Post.
San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy said he was “echoing Pope Francis’ message to President Biden and calling for dialogue, not judgment; collaboration, not isolation; truth in charity, not harshness.”
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