Pope Francis urged United States President Joe Biden to be a bringer of peace and reconciliation to his country and to the world on his inauguration day.
“At a time when the grave crises facing our human family call for farsighted and united responses, I pray that your decisions will be guided by a concern for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom,” said the pontiff.
Biden, a Catholic, was sworn into office as the 46th president of the United States outside the US Capitol Building in Washington, DC on Jan. 20.
In his message, the pope expressed hope that the new US president will respect the “rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice.”
Pope Francis wished that under Biden’s leadership the American people would draw strength from the “lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding.”
In a statement, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops said they planned to engage the new administration on issues including abortion, religious freedom, racism, and poverty.
The statement was reportedly put on hold earlier after several bishops expressed concern over how some issues like abortion, gender, and religious freedom were articulated.
Despite being a Catholic, Biden has been an advocate of abortion rights and a backer of pro-LGBT policies, which has concerned many US faithful. Nearly a million abortions are conducted each year in the US.
Biden has taken office as the country continues to battle one of the biggest coronavirus crises worldwide.
Concluding his message to the new president, Pope Francis prayed that Biden’s efforts will “foster understanding, reconciliation and peace within the United States and among the nations of the world in order to advance the universal common good.”
“With these sentiments, I willingly invoke upon you and your family and the beloved American people an abundance of blessings,” said the pope.
In his inaugural speech, Biden said that “to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words.”
He 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.”
In his address, Biden also 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.