Last Wednesday, President Joe Biden, the second Catholic president in U.S. history, began Inauguration Day at Mass with his family and the nation’s leaders at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, DC. Just after the swearing in, Pope Francis sent a brief message of congratulations, blessings, and prayers that Biden’s “decisions will be guided by…unfailing respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable, and those who have no voice.” At about the same time, Archbishop José Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), released a lengthy statement offering prayers, saying “it will be refreshing to engage with a President who clearly understands, in a deep and personal way, the importance of religious faith and institutions,” and also warning that Biden “has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity….”
As Inauguration Day progressed, there were reports of divisions between the U.S. bishops and Pope Francis and among the U.S. bishops on how to assess and work with a Catholic president with Biden’s faith, history, and policy commitments. Since then, the USCCB has issued statements commending Biden’s executive actions on DACA, immigration reform, ending the “Muslim ban,” and rejoining the Paris Agreement on climate change; statements have also been made opposing Biden’s executive order on employment, LGBTQ, and gender issues, as well as his statement on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. All this has generated considerable commentary, controversy, concern, and confusion.
The Initiative is bringing together several respected leaders to examine the context and content of these developments and explore challenges and opportunities in the relationship between President Biden and the leaders of the Catholic Church. The panelists will explore:
Kim Daniels, co-director of the Initiative, will introduce and moderate the dialogue. Kim is also a member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication.
This dialogue will have closed captions. For all other accommodation requests, please email [email protected] by January 29. A good faith effort will be made to fulfill requests.