The Pope issued a message shortly after Mr Biden was sworn in hoping the new President would help heal the divisions in the US. Referencing the US’ death toll from coronavirus, Francis also hoped Mr Biden could tackle the “grave crises” around the world. It comes as Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, the head of the US Catholic Bishops Conference, condemned the President for his “ill-considered” pro-choice position on abortion.
Francis said he hoped Mr Biden would work towards justice, freedom and respect for Americans.
He said in his statement: “On the occasion of your inauguration as the forty-sixth President of the United States of America, I extend cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office.
“Under your leadership, may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding.
“I likewise ask God, the source of all wisdom and truth, to guide your efforts to foster understanding, reconciliation and peace within the United States and among the nations of the world in order to advance the universal common good.”
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Earlier this month, the Pope condemned the pro-Trump supporters for rioting in the US Capitol.
Francis said the violence in Washington left him “astonished” in an interview with Canale 5.
He added: “No population can boast of not having one day a case of violence. It happens in history.
“But we must understand well, so as not to repeat it, learn from history, learn that groups (…) that are not well integrated into society, sooner or later will have these eruptions of violence.”
Mr Biden is the second Catholic US President, and is the first election winner to receive a congratulatory phone call from the Pope.
In an interview with Stephen Colbert, the President said: “I just had a nice phone call with His Eminence, the new cardinal in Washington, who said he just got back from Rome where the Pope signed a book for me he wants me to have.
“The Pope’s been incredibly generous to our family.”
A week before the election in Warm Springs, Georgia, Mr Biden praised the Pope and said: “Pope Francis warns us against this phoney populism, that appeals to ‘the basest and most selfish instincts’ (…)
“Pope Francis asked questions that anyone who seeks to lead this great nation should be able to answer. And my answer is this: I run to unite this nation and to heal this nation.”
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In contrast, the Pope and Mr Trump had a fraught relationship, with Francis questioning the former President’s faith.
In 2016, Francis said of the Mexico/US border wall: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
Mr Trump furiously replied: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.
“No leader, especially a religious leader, has the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”
It comes after Mr Gomez served notice Catholic bishops in the US will fight Mr Biden on his positions on abortion and other moral issues.
The President personally disagrees with abortion due to his faith, but has refused to enact laws restricting birth control and treatments.
The LA bishop said: “I must point out that our new president has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender.”
Cardinal Blase Cupich from Chicago responded to Mr Gomez’s “ill-considered” statement, and added many American bishops had not been consulted over his remarks.