Lifetime Roman Catholic President-elect Joe Biden spoke with Pope Francis on Thursday, despite US President Donald Trump’s refusal to give in. Trump claims – without evidence – that the election was stolen from him by massive but unspecified acts of fraud.
Biden’s transition team said in a statement that the president-elect thanked Francis for “offering his blessings and congratulations and noting his appreciation.” He also praised the “leadership of the Pontiff in promoting peace, reconciliation and the common bonds of humanity in the world”.
Biden said he hoped to work with Francis on issues such as climate change, poverty and immigration.
News of the call came even as some Catholic bishops in the United States refused to recognize Biden’s victory and argued that the faithful should not support him because of his support for abortion rights.
On Tuesday, for example, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, tweeted that Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris support “the slaughter of the innocent” at all times during pregnancy.
Biden said he accepts the Church’s doctrine on abortion on a personal level, but does not want to impose this belief on everyone.
Biden has had several phone calls this week with foreign leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. They congratulated him on his victory and consider that the election is settled.
Having the Pope on board probably also has special meaning for Biden.
He is only the second Catholic to be elected President in US history, and the first since John F. Kennedy. Biden speaks frequently and openly about the importance of faith in his life, and attends Mass near his home in Wilmington, Delaware almost weekly.
Whatever their faith, American politicians are often eager to meet the Pope when they travel near Rome, although Francis refused to meet with Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in September, citing rules against such sit-downs during election periods. Francis last visited the United States in 2015.
Known for his advocacy for openness on issues such as gay rights, the environment, and religious tolerance, Francis has been adopted by some liberals as advancing their causes.
In its statement, Biden’s transition team said the president-elect told the pontiff he wanted to work together to promote “a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all mankind on issues such as care for the marginalized and the poor, the climate change crisis, and the reception and integration of immigrants. ”
The Vatican has not released any statement confirming the call.
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See is Callista Gingrich, whose husband, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, has been among staunch Trump supporters as he refuses to acknowledge Biden’s victory.
In the election, 50% of Catholic voters supported Trump and 49% favored Biden, according to VoteCast, a survey of more than 110,000 voters nationwide for the Associated Press by NORC at the University of Chicago .
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