Pope Francis spoke with U.S. President-Elect Joe Biden by telephone Thursday to offer “blessings and congratulations” according to a statement released by Biden’s transition team.
It says “the president-elect thanked His Holiness for extending blessings and congratulations,” as well as for the pope’s “leadership in promoting peace, reconciliation, and the common bonds of humanity around the world.”
Biden also assured the pope of his desire to collaborate on issues including “caring for the marginalized and the poor, addressing the crisis of climate change, and welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees.”
Biden, 77, is only the second Catholic elected to the US presidency, after John F Kennedy in 1960.
On Nov. 7, the media declared Biden the winner of the Nov. 3 election, but President Donald Trump has not conceded, and he and his campaign have filed several lawsuits in key battleground states, like Pennsylvania, disputing the election outcome, claiming voter fraud and irregularities in ballot counting.
While votes are still being counted, Biden has garnered 290 electoral votes while Trump has 217 electoral votes. It takes 270 votes to win the presidency.
Biden first met Pope Francis in 2013 as vice president, serving with President Barack Obama. In 2015, Biden and Obama welcomed Pope Francis to Washington, where he addressed a joint meeting of Congress Sept. 24 of that year.
Then-Vice President Biden also met Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, including a meeting in the pope’s Vatican office June 3, 2011.
While he was on the campaign trail for the 2020 presidential race, Biden invoked Pope Francis and quoted his encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship,” released Oct. 4 by the Vatican.
“Political life,” the pope wrote, “no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people’s lives and to advance the common good, but only with slick marketing techniques primarily aimed at discrediting others. In this craven exchange of charges and countercharges, debate degenerates into a permanent state of disagreement and confrontation.”
Pope Francis urged Christians and all people of goodwill to recognize the equal dignity of all people and to work together to build a world where people love and care for one another as brothers and sisters.
Building that world, he said in the encyclical, requires “encounter and dialogue,” processes that allow people to speak from their experience and culture, to listen to one another, learn from one another and find ways to work together for the common good.