Washington D.C., Jan 20, 2021 / 12:30 pm
Catholic leaders responded to new President Joe Biden’s call for national unity in his inaugural address on Wednesday.
Biden, the second Catholic to become president of the United States, said on Wednesday that “to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words,” and added that “it requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy, unity. Unity.”
Biden also quoted St. Augustine to underline the need for unity in truth.
“Many centuries ago, St. Augustine, a saint in my Church, wrote that a people was a multitude defined by the common objects of their love,” he said. These “common objects” that define Americans, said Biden, are “opportunity, security, liberty, dignity, respect, honor and, yes, the truth.”
He added that “each of us has a duty and a responsibility as citizens, as Americans, and especially as leaders, leaders who have pledged to honor our Constitution and protect our nation, to defend the truth and defeat the lies.”
However, multiple Catholic thinkers said that Biden left out Augustine’s reference to God in his citation.
Dr. Chad Pecknold, a theology professor at the Catholic University of America, noted that “Biden actually failed to quote Augustine in full,” and added that it was “more important still to note that he failed to identify the only common object of love that Augustine thought mattered for a true commonwealth: God.”
Other Catholic commentators praised Biden’s theme of unity in his address, but emphasized that his policies must match the Church’s teachings--including on abortion and religious freedom.