On his quest to heal a divided America, Joe Biden may first have to confront bitter division over his presidency from within his own church. Since his inauguration two weeks ago as the nation’s second Catholic president, Biden’s devout Christian faith has become a new flashpoint within a church already reeling from years of moral and financial crises.
Biden says he’s a Catholic, but actions speak louder than words
“I’m saying to our people, let’s use this teaching moment. Let’s come together and become more, if you will — use the questions of faith and respond to them in an intelligent way,” said the Rev. Kevin Gillespie, pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown where Biden has worshipped twice since becoming president.
“They applauded for a fellow parishioner, a fellow Catholic and the president of the United States,” Gillespie said of the welcome Biden received. “People were very happy, not that they all agree with his views, but he’s one of us.”
While millions of Catholics have celebrated the ascension of one of their own to the White House, some have been publicly questioning whether Biden should be considered a model of their faith.
“You might have heard that the president is Catholic. Perhaps you heard that. Perhaps you heard that he went to mass,” said the Rev. Brian Lynch of Transfiguration Catholic Church in Oakdale, Minnesota, in a sermon posted online Jan. 22. “I don’t care! That does not impress me!”
In addition to strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, President Biden took executive action to protect reproductive rights and overturn his predecessor’s restrictions on the use of taxpayer dollars for clinics that advise patients on abortion. https://t.co/LrENUnQWUC pic.twitter.com/KPo8XLG1N7
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 28, 2021
Catholics reject Biden’s abortion policies
The Rev. Jim Gigliotti of St. Andrew Catholic Church in Fort Worth, Texas, told parishioners last month that Biden is a man “without value.”
“You don’t like it, well that’s your problem,” he said in a livestreamed homily.
Many Catholic clergy and faithful are passionately fixated on Biden’s support for abortion rights, which the church staunchly opposes and considers an issue of “preeminent” importance.
“Some of you I know voted for someone who is now going to suffer and persecute the church for the next four years. That, on top of the fact that he supports the slaughter of the unborn,” the Rev. Jeffrey Kirby admonished members of his congregation at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Indian Land, South Carolina, last month. “What have you done? What have you done to your church?”