Regardless of where we stand politically, Catholics around the United States can join in important prayer with our church’s leaders today, for the good of our country and her people.
On inauguration day, Pope Francis and the U.S. bishops’ conference congratulated President Joseph R. Biden on his new office and prayed that he would heal divisions in our nation.
That is a worthy prayer.
Archbishop José H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a Jan. 20 statement that he was praying for the country’s second Catholic president, so that God grants “him wisdom and courage to lead this great nation and … to meet the tests of these times.”
He prayed God will help Biden “heal the wounds caused by the pandemic, to ease our intense political and cultural divisions, and to bring people together with renewed dedication to America’s founding purposes, to be one nation under God committed to liberty and equality for all.”
Pope Francis prayed the new president would try to heal divisions in the U.S. and promote human dignity and peace in the world.
“Under your leadership, may the American people continue to draw strength from the lofty political, ethical and religious values that have inspired the nation since its founding,” the pope wrote to Biden Jan. 20.
A prayer for unity was also at the center of the day’s invocation, delivered by Father Leo O’Donovan, former president of Georgetown University. He approached the topic through that which lies at the center of Christian unity — love.
“There is a power in each and every one of us. … It is called love. And its path is to give ever more of itself,” he said. “Today it is called American patriotism, born not of power and privilege, but of care for the common good.”
He noted that Pope Francis’ most recent encyclical, “Fratelli Tutti” cautions readers against dreaming in isolation.
Father O’Donovan explained, “Pope Francis has reminded us how important it is to dream together. ‘By ourselves,’ he wrote, ‘we risk seeing mirages, things that are not there. Dreams, on the other hand, are built together.’ Be with us holy mystery of love as we dream together.’ ”
The attack on the U.S. capitol on the feast of the Epiphany revealed just how deep divisions in the U.S. run.
The divisions won’t be healed easily. They won’t be healed by one president. They won’t be healed by one prayer or by inspiring words about love and dreams.
These divisions can be healed by us, yes. By our collective prayer; our collective respect for one another, our collective dialogue, our collective effort to understand one another, however different we may be.
And all of these things will be possible if we begin by trying to see one another — love one another — as Christ does.