As the US bishops face a moment unseen in most of their lifetimes – the nation’s election of a Catholic to the Presidency – the issue of Joe Biden’s faith emerged by surprise at today’s public close of the USCCB plenary, as the bench’s leadership suddenly moved to draw a line in the sand with the incoming Democratic administration over its support of legal abortion.

Five days since the President-elect received a congratulatory phone call from the Pope – during which the two discussed the common causes of “caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees” – while Archbishop José Gomez made a passing nod of hope that Biden’s “faith commitments will move him to support some good policies,” the conference president quickly pivoted to underscore that the new White House “will support policies that attack some fundamental values we hold dear as Catholics… [which] undermine our ‘preeminent priority’ of the elimination of abortion.”

Announcing a working group led by the USCCB vice-president, Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit, and rounded out by several key committee chairs, Gomez said that “when politicians who profess the Catholic faith support” abortion and a concept of religious freedom that allows enforcement of protections for civil rights, “there are additional problems. 

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