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Catholic leaders respond to Biden’s call for unity

By Christine Rousselle for CNA

(Image: CNA)

Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2021 / 12:30 pm (CNA).- Catholic leaders responded to new President Joe Biden’s call for national unity in his inaugural address on Wednesday.

Biden, the second Catholic to become president of the United States, said on Wednesday that “to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words,” and added that “it requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity. Unity.”

Biden also quoted St. Augustine to underline the need for unity in truth.

“Many centuries ago, St. Augustine, a saint in my Church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love,” he said. These “common objects” that define Americans, said Biden, are “opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and, yes, the truth.”

He added that “each of us has a duty and a responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”

However, multiple Catholic thinkers said that Biden left out Augustine’s reference to God in his citation.

Dr. Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at the Catholic University of America, noted that “Biden actually failed to quote Augustine in full,” and added that it was “more important still to note that he failed to identify the only common object of love that Augustine thought mattered for a true commonwealth: God.”

Other Catholic commentators praised Biden’s theme of unity in his address, but emphasized that his policies must match the Church’s teachings–including on abortion and religious freedom.

Dr. Charles Camosy, a theology professor at Fordham University and former board member of Democrats for Life of America, praised Biden for attending Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral on Wednesday morning, along with congressional leaders.

Biden’s heart, Camosy said, “is a Catholic one and a deeply Catholic one at that. His decision to pray with Leader McConnell before being inaugurated shows a deep commitment to the kinds of values we would expect from a son of the Church.”

Catholics, Camosy said, should seek to work with Biden on areas of agreement and hold him accountable when his public policies conflict with the teachings of the Church–including on Biden’s support for taxpayer-funded abortion.

“Happily, he [Biden] believes in his Catholic heart that abortion is always wrong,” Camosy said. “This is a foundation on which to build for changing his mind about public policy.”

“There is common ground to be had on abortion, and we owe it to prenatal children and their mothers to seek to find it. No pro-lifer should allow their understandable anger and frustration to lead them to put castigation and vitriol before taking the chance to save lives,” Camosy said.

Mary Rice Hasson, a fellow at the Ethics & Public Policy Center, said that Biden’s words may have evinced a “‘feel-good’ moment,” but his first actions as president are saying otherwise.

She pointed to Biden’s announced executive order clarifying that workplace protections against sex discrimination be interpreted to include prohibitions of discrimination on the basis of “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

The text of the order “is based on a lie,” Hasson said, “that ‘gender identity’ enables a male person to ‘be’ a woman. So much for truth.”

She added that the order “puts the power of the federal government behind the lie, forcing religious believers—including his [Biden’s] own Church—to bend the knee to the transgender lie or be tagged as bigots and denied participation in federal programs, grants, and benefits.”

However, Fr. James Martin, S.J., editor-at-large of America magazine who offered a prayer at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, told CNA that Biden “today invited our country into a time of unity and healing, which is what is needed in these divisive and demonizing times.”

He noted Biden’s specific references to faith “to remind us that God will help us in our efforts.”

Elsewhere in his address, Biden stressed the need to “set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation.” He cited Psalm 30, reminding those that “weep, ye may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

“We will get through this together. Together,” he said. Biden paused for a moment of silent prayer for those who had died in the pandemic.

Coming together, said Biden, will help to heal “a broken land.”

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  1. “…more important still to note that he failed to identify the only common object of love that Augustine thought mattered for a true commonwealth: God.”
    Exactly & God will be left out of that equation increasingly if it’s up to some of Biden’s entourage.
    And loving “security”? When did that become a virtue?

  2. Well, FATHER Martin, who did the demonizing? As for Biden’s call for unity, he and FATHER Martin need to remember that it was their party that rioted all summer, threw people out of restaurants for four years, assaulted people who wore hats they disagreed with, ran with a four-year long certifiable lie called Russia Collusion. Biden himself promises to sue the Little Sisters of the Poor, and his Vice-President wants to bar Catholics from serving on the courts. All that, and a promise to keep legal late term murder of the unborn. If that’s a “deeply” Catholic heart, Camosy, we need to close the doors of our churches right now. If that is what Catholics bring to the public square, we have no right to exist. Anyway, I am sure the folks at USCCB headquarters are all smiles today.

  3. St. Augustine, once upon a time, also had to deal with two churches (in North Africa): the Catholic Church and the competing and ostensible Donatist church. To which will the Church be bendin,” with Biden?

    With St. Augustine, we need only recall the behavior of the Donatist:

    “…Catholics, and especially the bishops and clergy, have suffered many terrible hardships, which would take too long to go through in detail, seeing in some of them their eyes put out, and one bishop his hands and tongue off, while some were actually murdered [are we reminded of each partial birth abortion, now post-birth infanticide, and tongueless witnesses, both bishops and laity?]. I say nothing of the massacres of the most cruel description [some 60+ million since 1973], and robberies of houses, committed in nocturnal burglaries [or, instead that other kind of burglaries by the enabled beachhouse-McCarrick, and the courtroom/gangland imposition of gender theory], with the burning not only of private houses [the Little Sisters of the Poor?], but even of churches [in the 2020 summer of our discontent, including statue decapitation],–some being found abandoned enough [empty pews everywhere, unlike coddled and maskless rioting in the streets, long before January 6] to cast the sacred books into the flames” [books replaced by electronic tribalism] (Letters, CLXXXV, 19-36).

    Upon his installation, Cardinal Gregory promised to always tell the truth; and now pseudo-Pope Biden opines that he, himself, is the source of truth—-or rather, half-truths. In more “straight”-forward times, Pilate at least had the non-political presence of mind to still ask “what is truth?”

  4. Dr. Charles sounds like he is living in a different reality than the rest of us in regards to Biden’s “Catholicism”.

    He also seems devoid of the facts that Biden is a compromised, owned man who has to act at the behest of those in charge of him and his illegitimate presidency and not what his “happy” little heart dictates.

    What is going on here…

  5. Biden does not want unity in the true sense of the word. All he wants is “comply or you will die”, and our Catholic Bishops, at least those who are not standing up for the truth, are playing right into his hands.

    True unity is grounded in the Truth, of which Biden does not follow. Period.

  6. In fairness to Archbishop Gomez pres of the USCCB, which body I criticized earlier in response to G Weigel’s article, Pres Biden and Catholic Inflection Point, Pete Baklinski LifeSite cited The Pillar [news agency] that Vat Sec of State Cardinal Parolin embargoed Archbishop Gomez’ original statement, intended for publication this morning Jan 20, requiring deletion of the following, “Noting that Biden is the country’s first president in 60 years to profess the Catholic faith, Gomez pointed out that the incoming president’s agenda does not square with Catholic teaching. ‘So, 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. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences’. Gomez stressed that abortion will remain the preeminent priority for American bishops during the Biden administration. ‘For the nation’s bishops, the continued injustice of abortion remains the ‘preeminent priority’”. This is certainly a strong and needed statement of faith. Quashed by the Vatican consistent with greater interest on ‘wider’ global perspectives for achieving brotherhood. Such a declaration of our faith would have benefited a confused laity including presbyters had it been published months past. That it was intended for publication this morning Jan 20 is still laudable the Vatican’s censure deplorable.

    • Anyone can have a visceral concern for a global crisis, but anyone with genuine moral wisdom, which ought to imbue the hearts and minds of lifetimes lived in ordination, ought to know that you can not be wrong about abortion and possess a measured moral wisdom about anything else.

  7. Camosy and Martin should think about becoming True Catholics instead of ‘cultural’ and INO Catholics. Their poor misinformed, malformed, and uninformed minds & hearts would be in line with the Teachings of Jesus Christ. Not until.

    • The choice of “happily” struck me as a poor choice of words. What is happy related to abortion?

      Just because someone attends mass doesn’t mean they are Catholic at heart.

      The bishops need to send him a letter telling him to get his act together!

    • And yet why is he chosen to be a representative of Catholics? Just because he has a credential irrelevant to the judging of the particulars at hand? Even RC mass media serves as a gatekeeper to information and discussion.

  8. First day in office he signs an EO to use taxpayers money to fund abortions overseas. So he went mass this morning and signs an EO to kill more of the unborn. Please tell me how the Bishops that are supporting him are not leading the flock away from God? What message are they sending to the Catholic in the country and around the world? What would God think about therir support?

    • Biden’s child killing abortion stance causes ‘confusion with the faithful’! Biden adopts a phony holy stance meanwhile his support for child killing abortion means that he accepts a long list of falsehoods on which this child killing is justified and based. Logically, it follows; acceptance of falsehood on other issues. It is blatantly in breach of a commandment and the teaching of the Church.
      It clearly appears to causes great confusion with Catholic Church hierarchy and leadership. As always on this subject there is abundant talk and waffle without real action to halt the confusion, so the confusion continues and grows. In attempting to play politics it is viewed as a “difficult and complex” situation. It will continue that way with countless children being killed unless real action is taken to emphatically state that the Church is unbending on and will not compromise on this teaching. To not recognise/celebrate Biden as a Catholic would send an unambiguous message to Biden, other abortion supporting Catholic politicians, and the world. Action must bhe taken.

  9. Whew! I guess I wasn’t the only one reading this article in utter amazement. To tout Biden’s Catholicism is a political ploy, nothing else. His actions belie his “Catholic heart”.

  10. That Professor Camosy is a theology professor at Fordham University is a powerful sign that what he professes what is false.

    The article quotes Mary Rice Hasson that Biden’s announced executive order “is based on a lie” about “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

    The exact same lie is quite obviously the basis of Fordham University’s “theology,” and Fordham’s theology department is living in this lie. We can proceed from the evidence about Fordham with the rebuttable assumption that this lie is also professed by Dr. Camosy.

    The evidence about Fordham’s theology department is this: the Chair of the Theology Department at Fordham is Professor Hornbeck, an openly homosexual, non-Catholic man, in a fake “marriage” with a man, which is a matter of public record, reported in newspapers like the NY Times.

    Fordham’s beliefs, like Biden’s executive order, is based on a lie, that ‘gender identity’ enables a man to “marry” another man and ‘be’ his ‘spouse.’

    As Hasson said of Biden, so it can be said of “theology professors” at Fordham: “So much for truth.”

    Biden can be called “Catholic” in the same sense that “Herod” was called a Jew.

    • Camosy has claimed ‘a way’of compromise with ethicist Peter Singer on global poverty and the’dignity’ of non-human animals.

      Camosy is Catholic to the same extent that Singer is.

      And Yes, Card. Gregory gave Holy Communion to Joe Biden.

  11. The fact that now after the inauguration we hear the USCCB speak up is sad. Where were our Catholic leaders when priests who spoke up against abortion were told to stop, or our Church family needed to be instructed on what the Church stands for but instead were told to pray and vote your conscience? There is no clerical unity in the Catholic Church–some priests promote gay lifestyle and yet they are out speaking and promoting their agenda without a reprimand. Some cardinals don’t deny communion to Biden while priests have. The silence from our Church implies that what these priests are doing is okay. It seems that the Church was playing politics before the election and now are “maybe” finding their voice. But it is too late. If no priest has told Biden that he is wrong, I doubt that now that he is president he will be slowed down in his upholding Planned Parenthood, abortions up to birth or forcing us to pay for what in good Catholic conscience we cannot support. Too many words, we Catholics need action, need strong shepherds. They seem to have forgotten that Jesus spoke the truth and did not hesitate to reprimand.

  12. I would respectfully say that we know who Biden really is he has been in politics for 47 years. We know he is anti pro-life and does not follow the teachings of the church in regards to life, marriage and sexual orientation. Sorry I will not follow a so called Catholic president until he shows me signs of reform in these matters.
    I urge everyone to denounce his standings and any catholic politician (i.e Nancy Pelosi, Tim Kaine, and the dozens more) Until they seem to follow the CCC in these most grave areas.

  13. I have been trying to be realistic. The time has come for the Cardinals and Bishops to start confirming and hurling Anathemas against a wicked people. The Church must be repaired! We certainly can’t depend on Francis to defend Truth.

    Pope Benedict XVl please break your silence. Your silence may be offending God, as your causing your flock to be led astray.

  14. Another in an increasing long line of ridiculous articles from Catholic News Service. I guess I can understand how occasionally Catholic World Report needs an article to fill up some space. I saw Father Martin’s name and Dr. Camosy’s name, but I am still looking for Catholic Leaders mentioned in the title.
    Interesting that Dr. Camosy can see into Biden’s heart (“Happily, Biden believes in his Catholic heart that abortion is always wrong”). Why is it always wrong? Oh, right, because it is killing innocent human beings. But, let us not just continue killing the hundreds of thousands we are killing every year, but let us increase the number here and abroad.
    Dr. Camosy, a theology professor and former board member of Democrats for Life in America. What comes to my mind when I see a phrase like democrats for life is – Klan members for integration, Muslim jihadists for Israel, etc.
    Dr. Camosy said there is common ground to be had on abortion. Where would that be? I believe that murdering unborn babies should stop, and Biden believes we should have more killing, and be paid for by the government (us). Maybe I am missing something, but I don’t see any room for common ground there.

  15. Surprisingly feeble article for the usually sound CNA. Martin and Camosy are among Catholic leaders? This would be laughable if the subject weren’t so serious.

  16. …”he knows that in his Catholic heart that abortion is always wrong,” Camosy said. “This is a foundation on which to build for changing his mind…”

    Missing the point, that it not a mind available to be changed. Biden has lost cognitively, and has problem with reading what others have written for him to say. Your abortion adversaries are ‘woke’ individuals behind the curtain that have been brainwashed to believe in Margaret Sanger’s idea of a supreme race. They are working diligently to this goal while attacking Christians as terrorists and calling us out for what they truly are ‘the elite-Supremacists’.

  17. Less of the word Catholic, please. Baptism makes one a Catholic but practice of the teaching of Christ and the Church proves whether or not the individual is thinking and acting as a Catholic. I’m surprised no-one has pointed out how anti-Catholic he is when he blatantly promotes abortion, which is a litmus test of faith and acceptance of Catholic doctrine. To support abortion is not Christian and is a grave matter, not trivia.

  18. How did dr Camosy become a theology professor,a Catholic one atthat ,stop printing stuff like that. Dr, camosy you should be ashamed of yourself

  19. pro-life or pro-choice, i am still happy that Joe Biden is President…his policies are 1 million times better than the goof ball who was in the white house before him…even loser trump was pro-choice yet you people believed he was not…you are all gullible idiots

    • By your “logic”, you should be a Trump fan. After all, if he was really so “pro-choice”, he would align perfectly with Biden. Seems obvious you want it both ways: to condemn Trump for what he was as POTUS while sneering at his supporters for having the audacity to acknowledge what he did for the pro-life cause. Laughable.

      • I would refer you to Trump’s incitement of radicalized monsters on January 6, 2021 defiling our symbol of democracy, the US Capitol that resulted in the deaths of five people. And, don’t forget the Republican congresses enablers.

        • “Protest peacefully and patriotically,” he said.

          By the way, Joe Biden is now responsible for some 17,800 coronavirus deaths, and he’s been president for less than a week. Why aren’t you speaking out against him?

  20. I don’t agree with the new presidents moral views, especially abortion on demand, but I pray that our hierarchy reaches compromise with his return fully to his Irish Catholic roots. I believe that a brighter day is in the offing if Biden’s accepts the life saving Hyde Amendment. I would ask Cardinal Wilton Gregory to help the president in that important Catholic spiritual effort.

    Joe Biden is the only POYUS candidate in history enduring a wrath of liars that his election win was a fraud. Because our country is in serious trouble, perhaps worse than any in history, I want Joe Biden to win his urgent battle with COVID19 and immediate actions with financial recovery especially of the hundreds on the edge of poverty.

    • “… but I pray that our hierarchy reaches compromise with his return fully to his Irish Catholic roots.”

      What the hell does that even mean? Seriously.

    • “Joe Biden is the only POYUS candidate in history enduring a wrath of liars that his election win was a fraud. ”

      What a very short memory you have.

      63 House Democrats boycotted President Trump’s inauguration, remember?

      And that entire ridiculous “Russian collusion” lie was a vain effort to claim that President Trump’s election was a fraud. Remember?

      And petulant little leftists have been stomping their privileged little feet and whining “Not my president!” ever since.

      Buy a clue.

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  1. Fordham’s theology prof a winner. A Democrat, he reads the heart of his peerless leader. A great act if he could carry it off. – Blithe Spirit

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