When President-elect Joe Biden assumes office in January, he will become only the second Catholic president in U.S. history, following John F. Kennedy. On Saturday, after Mr. Biden was projected winner of the presidential race, Catholics around the world reacted to the historic moment.
Pope Francis, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, offered his congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden during a call Thursday morning. According to a statement from the Biden-Harris transition team, the pair discussed some policy areas in which Biden is likely to break from President Trump. The Biden-Harris transition team announced the president-elected had spoken with Pope Francis. Biden “thanked His Holiness for extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation for His Holiness’ leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world,” a statement from the transition team stated.
“The president-elect expressed his desire to work together on the basis of a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities,” the statement added.
Francis has been outspoken on these issues and has repeatedly called on global leaders to take more action to confront them. Biden has laid out ambitious plans to tackle the climate crisis, and he plans to lift the United States’ refugee resettlement cap, which Trump had lowered to a record level.
On Election Day, Mr. Biden, a devout Catholic, started out by attending Mass and visiting the graves of his son, Beau, and his first wife Neilia and infant daughter Naomi, who were both killed in a car crash in 1972. On Sunday, Mr. Biden did the same, attending Mass with his daughter Ashley and grandson Hunter at St. Joseph on the Brandywine Catholic Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and then visiting his family members’ graves.
Biden often delivers speeches with references to biblical language or the pope. In the final week of the presidential campaign, for example, Biden quoted an anti-populism passage from the pope’s most recent encyclical. During his victory speech, Mr. Biden referenced his faith when he quoted the hymn “On Eagles’ Wings,” which he said meant a lot to his family, particularly his late son, Beau, who died of cancer in 2015. “It captures the faith that sustains me and which I believe sustains America,” Biden said, before reciting some of the lyrics.