Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, better known as emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, expressed misgivings in a Monday interview about President Biden for falling in line with the Democratic Party’s political platform.
Cardinal Ratzinger, who became the first pope in more than 600 years to retire when he stepped down in 2013, had “some reservations on a religious level” with Mr. Biden, according to the Italian publication Corriere della Sera.
“It’s true, he’s Catholic and observant. And personally he is against abortion,” Cardinal Ratzinger told the newspaper. “But as president, he tends to present himself in continuity with the line of the Democratic Party. … And on gender politics we have not yet understood what his position is.”
Mr. Biden, the second Catholic U.S. president after John F. Kennedy, has frustrated traditional Catholics with his staunch pro-choice policy positions and push to end gender-identity discrimination despite concerns about religious freedom.
In his first month in office, Mr. Biden revoked the Mexico City policy banning foreign aid for abortions abroad; cheered the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, and named pro-choice crusader California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to head the Health and Human Services Department.
Mr. Biden has also thrown his support behind the Equality Act, which would ban discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation — and exempt itself from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act — with implications for faith-based employers, medical providers and women’s sports.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said in a Feb. 26 statement that the Equality Act runs “roughshod over religious liberty.”
Now 93, Cardinal Ratzinger insisted that “there are not two popes,” referring to his decision to retire, instead of serving for life, which paved the way for the election of the more liberal Pope Francis.
The pope emeritus lives in a former monastery at the Vatican.
“It was a difficult decision. But I took it in full consciousness, and I think I did well,” said Cardinal Ratzinger, as translated by Google. “Some of my ‘fanatic’ friends are still angry; they didn’t want to accept my choice.”