The head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week said he is praying for President Biden and looks forward to working with the new administration but remains concerned that the new president supports policies that “advance moral evils.”
José H. Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), made the comments in a statement the day Biden was inaugurated. Biden is America’s first Catholic president in nearly 60 years. John F. Kennedy was the only other Catholic president.
“I am praying that God grant him wisdom and courage to lead this great nation and that God help him to meet the tests of these times, to heal the wounds caused by this pandemic, to ease our intense political and cultural 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,” Gomez said.
“... I look forward to working with President Biden and his administration, and the new Congress. 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.”
Catholic bishops, Gomez said, “are not partisan players in our nation’s politics” but simply offer “principles” that “are rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the social teachings of his Church.”
“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,” Gomez said. “Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.”
The bishops’ “commitments on issues of human sexuality and the family” are “guided by Christ’s great commandment to love and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable,” Gomez wrote.
“For the nation’s bishops, the continued injustice of abortion remains the ‘preeminent priority.’ Preeminent does not mean ‘only.’ We have deep concerns about many threats to human life and dignity in our society,” Gomez wrote. “But as Pope Francis teaches, we cannot stay silent when nearly a million unborn lives are being cast aside in our country year after year through abortion.
Abortion, Gomez wrote, 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,” he wrote. “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 said he hopes Biden won’t further expand abortion but instead “begin a dialogue” with the bishops and the pro-life community “to address the complicated cultural and economic factors that are driving abortion and discouraging families.”
“We are all under the watchful eye of God, who alone knows and can judge the intentions of our hearts,” Gomez wrote. “I pray that God will give our new President, and all of us, the grace to seek the common good with all sincerity.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Photoboyko
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.