According to one observer, this is the week C&E Catholics become simply E Catholics, because of the coronavirus. But to many others commentators, this is a week to focus on the President-elect who will be going to church on Christmas and every Sunday.
The AUSCP has asked U.S. Bishops to work with President-elect Biden on matters where they agree — such as immigration, climate crisis and racial justice. Catholics in the United States are divided (as are the bishops). We have several articles touching on this topic.
The candidates of Catholics
Around the country, there’s a showdown between “Biden’s not a Catholic” versus “Biden models the values of Pope Francis!” Michelle Boorstein in the Washington Post writes on the debate:
Bishops have already created a working group to deal with the “difficult” situation of his presidency. Priests from Maryland to Fort Worth have preached that the president-elect isn’t even really a Catholic. But to many millions of Catholics who voted for him, Joe Biden and his focus on healing are a compassionate, Pope Francis-like model of their faith.”
Don Clemmer, writing in National Catholic Reporter, examines the thoughts and feelings among divided Catholics as Christmas arrives and inauguration approaches.
Just as he carried the second highest vote total in the history of U.S. presidential elections, Donald Trump lost the 2020 popular vote to Joe Biden’s even greater record total — but also carried about half of U.S. Catholics (according to the AP VoteCast survey). So as Biden — the second Catholic to be elected president in U.S. history — prepares to take office on Jan. 20, millions of his coreligionists not only supported his opponent, but many did so doubling down on the choice they made to support Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016.”
Michael Sean Winters, always ready with a provocative opinion (but always based on good data and accurate observation), makes this claim: “No one is better equipped to help heal the nation and restore confidence in the government than President-elect Joe Biden.”
Winters backs up his claim, writing,
On NCR’s Facebook Live event on Dec. 16, Mark Kennedy Shriver correctly noted that the American people want President-elect Joe Biden to bring the country together, that most Americans are tired of the inability of politicians to come to agreement on addressing the nation’s problems, and that Biden was the man to do it.”
Winters, however, is realistically not very hopeful.
Faith, politics, and conflict – recurring historical themes
Meanwhile, Faithful America reported that the Proud Boys attacked two Black churches, while Franklin Graham looked the other way. Catholic leaders like Bishop Joseph Strickland attended a pro-Trump, anti-democracy rally in D.C. with disgraced Trump aide Michael Flynn. Find out more (and expect a request for a contribution) at Faithful America.
The intersection of politics and religion, during an Advent season of hope, compounded by divisions among and within religious groups – that’s a recipe for some head-shaking confusion. The New Yorker magazine offers a commentary on the role of religion in the time of plague.
Another report adding historic context to the religion-politics turmoil comes this week from the Christian Science Monitor. The article explores the similarities of the current climate and the aftermath of the American Civil War.
And finally, some positive news
Here’s some positive news for all who join with the AUSCP in support of immigration reform and a just treatment of people seeking entry into our country (and the many already here). A meeting of faith groups with a Biden cabinet nominee was described by Religion News Service as “a 180 degree change from what we’ve been enduring for the last four years.”
At a time in our nation and church, where everything seems to have a deeper meaning, or at least some additional symbolism, the Washington Post explores a decision Biden will make: Which church to attend?
Four Catholic churches sit within 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) of the White House. As vice president, Biden attended Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington’s tony Georgetown neighborhood, where the nation’s only other Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, frequently went to Mass before his inauguration.”
Finally, stretching the experience of American Catholics about the issues of today is a report by Brian Roewe in NCR regarding a term most Americans have not yet heard: Ecowomanism. Looking at the AUSCP support of climate measures and the support of racial justice and women in leadership, you’ll see why this is a “season to rebuild a broken world: and that ‘Ecowomanism’ can hep us move forward.”