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Pope Francis congratulates, blesses fellow Catholic Joe Biden. The pair agree on some issues — but abortion isn't one of them.

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Biden called abortion an 'essential health care service'; the pope decried referring to abortions as 'essential services'

Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call

Pope Francis congratulated fellow Catholic Joe Biden during a call Thursday morning, according to a Biden-Harris Transition statement.

What did they talk about?

The statement said Biden "thanked His Holiness for extending blessings and congratulations and noted his appreciation for His Holiness' leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world."

The former vice president — who on Saturday was declared the winner of the 2020 election over President Donald Trump by numerous media outlets, although Trump is disputing the vote count — also "expressed his desire to work together on the basis of a shared belief in the dignity and equality of all humankind on issues such as caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into our communities," the statement added.

Biden would be the second Catholic president in U.S. history, following John F. Kennedy, National Public Radio said.

The rest of the story

NPR also characterized Biden as a "deeply devout person of faith" who "often delivers speeches with references to biblical language or the pope."

But given that Biden staunchly favors abortion rights — a distinctly non-Catholic position — prominent Catholic church officials don't view Biden as someone who takes faith seriously.

According to LifeSite News, Cardinal Raymond Burke just days before the election gave a failing grade to Biden's positions on life, marriage, and the family.

"I can't imagine that he would present himself as a devout Catholic," Burke said of Biden. "He has a record which is unfortunately perfect in promoting the attack on the innocent defense of the unborn. … He is also not correct on the issues with regard to marriage and the family. ... The great darkness in our nation comes from the wholesale slaughter of the unborn, also the attack on the family, all this gender theory … and now the attack on religious freedom."

And while Biden in April called abortion an "essential health care service" during a conversation with former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Pope Francis decried that specific view in a United Nations address in September.

"Unfortunately, some countries and international institutions are also promoting abortion as one of the so-called 'essential services' provided in the humanitarian response to the pandemic," the pope said, according the Catholic News Agency.

Biden has at times claimed he is personally opposed to abortion, LifeSite News said in separate story, but has drifted leftward on the issue over the years. The outlet said Biden in June 2019 reversed his stance on the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions, and explained that "circumstances have changed." Indeed, Biden announced his candidacy for president in late April.

How would their differing views on abortion affect Biden's relationship with Pope Francis in the future? Well, LifeSite News also said that Biden — commenting late last year on a priest who denied him Communion — claimed that "it's not a position that I've found anywhere else, including from the Holy Father, who gives me Communion."

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