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US Bishops Uneasy With Biden, But He Could Be Good News

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The majority of U.S. bishops in a recent survey were at best “uneasy” with the second Catholic president in U.S. history, said Catholic analyst Francis Maier, yet Joe Biden’s presidency could in an unexpected way be good news for the Catholic Church.

Maier, a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC), spoke at the John F. Scarpa Conference on Law, Politics, and Culture at Villanova University on April 23.

“Over the past six months,” he said, “I’ve done confidential interviews with 29 bishops about the future of the Church for a project I’m pursuing through Notre Dame’s Constitutional Studies program. Twenty-eight of those men were American. These are mainstream guys. No cranks and no outliers. They come from very different backgrounds. They serve in a wide variety of pastoral conditions, urban and rural. And they lead dioceses in every region of the country, in 20 different states.” 

“None was encouraged by Joe Biden’s election. Not one.” 

“They had conflicting opinions about Donald Trump, but all were uneasy about Biden. And they were very critical of his vice president, Kamala Harris — especially given Biden’s questionable durability — for her track record as California’s attorney general and later as a U.S. senator,” he added. 

“Several of the bishops I spoke with expressed concern about the Democratic Party’s shift to the left; its curious interpretation of constitutional rights; and its appetite for increased government controls fed by the COVID pandemic. None of this, by the way, translated into praise for the Republican Party. That’s another story.”

Maier said most of the bishops he interviewed felt that cooperation could and would occur between the new White House and U.S. bishops on at least some issues of mutual concern. But overall, their common view of Biden’s long-term impact on Church-related matters was strongly negative. 

“One senior bishop compared Biden — unfavorably — with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo,” he said. “Cuomo makes no claim to being a good Catholic, and thus in some ways is more honest and easier to work with because of it. The problem with Biden is precisely the appearance — highlighted by the media — of his piety.” 

Maier argued that “Biden’s rosary beads, his public nods to saints, and his attendance at Mass all serve to normalize his administration’s policies and actions that directly attack key Catholic beliefs on abortion, sex, family, and marriage. This has the effect of marginalizing bishops as ‘doctrinaire,’ out of touch, and seemingly aligned against the message of mercy preached by Pope Francis.” 

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