Pope Francis spoke with Joe Biden by telephone Thursday to offer “blessings and congratulations” to the US president-elect on his victory, the Democrat’s transition team said in a statement.
Former vice president Biden, 77, is only the second Catholic elected to the US presidency, after John F Kennedy in 1960.
“The president-elect 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,” according to a readout of the call provided by Biden’s office.
Biden “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.”
During a bitter 2020 campaign against President Donald Trump, Biden quoted Pope John Paul II, frequently invoked his Irish Catholic roots and pledged to “restore the soul of America” after four years of acrimony.
He also regularly carried a rosary that belonged to his late son Beau Biden.
Pope Francis himself has had strained relations with Trump. In early 2019 he called Trump’s wall project on the US-Mexico border “madness.”
Back when Trump was seeking the Republican nomination, in February 2016, the Pope made waves when he said during a visit to Mexico that someone who thinks about building walls instead of bridges “is not Christian.”
Trump fired back in a stinging statement at the time, saying: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”
In 2015 the Pope met with then-vice president Biden in Washington when Francis delivered a speech in the US Capitol to a joint meeting of Congress.
President-Elect Moves Forward With Transition Despite President Donald Trump Not Conceding
WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — A presidential transition process typically begins months before Inauguration Day, however this year that process is delayed due to the Trump administration’s legal challenges to election results.
“You want to make sure the incoming leadership is fully read into the threats that are going on around the world,” said Chris Lu, Director of the 2008 Obama transition team.
Lu says delaying a proper presidential transition has real world consequences.
“What’s happening right now from theTrump administration goes beyond abnormal. It really is troubling from a national security perspective. It is a violation of norms,” said Lu.
The General Services Administration (GSA), an agency that helps facilitate the basic functions of the federal government, typically provides incoming administrations with office space and financial resources to begin work. So far, the agency administrator has not certified Joe Biden as the incoming president.
The GSA sent Presidents-elect Trump and Obama letters certifying their transitions just hours after their projected wins. Both of those races, however, did not see major legal challenges.
Democrat Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia called the hesitancy from GSA “completely senseless.”
“I am leading an effort of senators… to reach out to GSA and say for God sakes just put the country first over being afraid of your boss,” said Kaine.
He added, the GSA could recognize Joe Biden as the winner of the election while the Trump campaign continues to pursue lawsuits.
Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia says if the transition begins after the Electoral College certifies Biden’s win, that should allow enough time for a smooth transition.
“There’s going to be a little bit of time here…I think it’s the 14th of December, by the 14th we should know,” said Manchin.
He says many of the Trump campaign’s lawsuits delaying the transition are frivolous.
“They won congressional seats, they won senate seats they weren’t supposed to. You just can’t, because it’s all on one ballot, you just can’t pick and choose and say that was fraud and this is not,” said Manchin.
“Why don’t we have the counting done before we worry about the transition team,” said Republican Congressman Doug LaMalfa of California.
LaMalfa says it’s within the Trump campaign’s rights to make sure every ballot is counted. Once a winner is clear and official, he says the transition can continue.
“There will be ample time to put something together…post certification, post litigation time,” said LaMalfa.
Mike Leavitt, Utah’s former governor and 2012 transition director for Mitt Romney, says a delay isn’t ideal but it is manageable.
“It does not mean that the incoming administration can’t be planning and doing whatever they can to be ready,” said Leavitt.
He says the Trump administration can work with the Biden team, even as election lawsuits continue.
“Look, we can do both of these things at the same time. This doesn’t have to be a big political collision,” said Leavitt.
In a statement, a GSA Spokesperson said:
“The GSA Administrator does not pick the winner in the Presidential election… the GSA Administrator ascertains the apparent successful candidate once a winner is clear based on the process laid out in the Constitution.”