Devout Catholic Joe Biden defies Vatican to double down on support for same-sex unions

Joe Biden officiates the wedding of White House staffers Brian Mosteller and Joe Mahshie

Joe Biden, a devout Roman Catholic, has confirmed that he continues to support same-sex unions despite a Vatican ruling that the church cannot bless them.

On Monday (15 March), the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith responded to the question of blessing same-sex couples, and insisted that God “does not bless sin”.

In a letter, approved by Pope Francis, the Vatican said: “The presence in such relationships of positive elements, which are in themselves to be valued and appreciated, cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of an ecclesial blessing, since the positive elements exist within the context of a union not ordered to the creator’s plan.”

“[God] does not and cannot bless sin: he blesses sinful man, so that he may recognise that he is part of his plan of love and allow himself to be changed by him,” it added.

On the same day, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a press briefing that the Roman Catholic president did not have a personal comment on the Vatican ruling, but added: “He continues to believe, and support same-sex unions, as you know, and he’s long had that position.”

Joe Biden is at odds with the Catholic church when it comes to issues like same-sex marriage and abortion

While the Catholic church still refuses to recognise same-sex marriage, Joe Biden has long been a supporter of marriage equality, having become the highest-ranking Democrat ever to endorse same-sex marriage back in 2012.

Biden has also openly supported trans rights over the last decade, in stark contrast to the church, telling the mother of a trans child a week before the 2012 election that transphobic discrimination is “the civil rights issue of our time“.

When he stepped into the White House this year, he was the first president to take office while supporting same-sex marriage.

Biden is also staunchly pro-choice, and just one week after he was sworn in, he signed an executive order to reverse Donald Trump’s ban on providing US assistance to any health organisation around the world that provides abortions.

But his positions on LGBT+ and reproductive rights have put him at odds with Catholic church doctrine, and have led to intense criticism of Joe Biden by some Catholic leaders.

In January, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, reverend José H Gomez, insisted that Biden would “advance moral evils” during his presidency. 

In a statement released through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, of which Gomez is president, the archbishop said: “I must point out that our new president has pledged to pursue certain politics that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage and gender.

“Of deep concern is the liberty of the church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.”