Friday, February 26, 2021

Biden, devout but liberal, not supported by all fellow Catholics

Some conservative Catholics in Washington have greeted Biden's election with caution and suspicion.

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President-elect Joe Biden has been through some low periods.

The most well-known of these were when his first wife Neilia and his baby daughter Naomi were killed in a car crash while Christmas shopping and, decades later, the death of his son Beau from brain cancer at the age of 46.

The president-elect has spoken about how his Catholic faith and devotion to the church carried him through his grief.

Recent presidents were professed Christians but only intermittently attended church while in office.

Donald Trump is not a weekly church goer. Barack Obama would go to church for the occasional Christmas or Easter service in Washington or on vacation in Hawaii, but rarely during the rest of the year

George W Bush, being a high-profile born-again Christian, tended to worship privately.

But for Biden, who next month will become the second Catholic president in US history, attending weekly Mass is expected to be a fixture on his schedule.

When the Irish-American Catholic John F Kennedy won the White House in 1960, there was still a real debate about whether a Catholic president might be tempted to take his directions from the Vatican and the Pope instead of the US Constitution.

Times have changed.

“Joe’s faith isn’t just part of who he is,” said Senator Chris Coons. “It’s foundational to who he is.”

Father Kevin O’Brien, a friend and spiritual adviser to Biden and his wife Jill said, “Joe prays regularly and he goes to church. He’s open and proud that he’s a Catholic.”

However, some conservative Catholics in Washington have greeted Biden’s election with caution and suspicion, reports CNN.

Some are saying Biden should not receive the all-important communion because of his support for abortion rights and contraception.

Ashley McGuire, of the conservative Catholic Association, said it will be difficult to separate Biden’s liberalism on key moral issues from how he’s viewed by Catholics, especially because of how his campaign emphasised his faith.

“It just highlights even more where he is at odds with the church,” said McGuire.

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