New story up at Mother Jones

On November 17, 2020, the head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Archbishop José Gomez, announced that Joe Biden, who had just been elected president, presented “a difficult and complex situation for the church.” A devout Catholic, Biden nonetheless had expressed support, albeit sometimes lukewarm, for abortion and LGBTQ rights. Therefore, the bishops’ body had decided to form a working group to consider how to deal with a Catholic president at odds with church doctrine.

Two months later, on Inauguration Day, Gomez issued a press release that tempered the USCCB’s traditional congratulations with the claim that Biden had “pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity.” Gomez’s press release was met with immediate rebuttals from other high-ranking bishops, one of whom described it on Twitter as “ill-considered” and demonstrative of “internal institutional failures,” as well as a subtle rebuke from Pope Francis, who sent Biden a warm note of congratulations later the same day. It reflected a stark divide in the church and now, with only the second Catholic to become president, the conservatives among the bishops felt compelled to act.

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