While many consider Great Britain to be the most important ally of the US, others say it’s NATO countries that comprise the US’s defense against Russia. The leaders of these countries backed Joe Biden’s election as the President of the US. However, in reality, President Biden’s biggest ally is Pope Francis and not European leaders.
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The Pope’s recent trip to Iraq advanced US interests. During this visit to the war-torn country, the head of the Catholic Church called for greater tolerance and a full expression of religious freedom. His visit also brought the country together. Given that the US invasion in 2003 threatened Iraq’s territorial integrity, a united Iraq aligns with the US’s interests.
Pope Francis’s high standing overseas can help mend a battered US image. Since 2000, favorable opinions of the US declined in the United Kingdom from 63% to 41%, in Germany from 78% to 26%, and in France from 62% to 31%. In the US, 35% of people associate with the Catholic Church. Even more people (49%) view Pope Francis as a humanitarian and moral spokesperson for all people.
In the US too, Pope Francis is a valuable ally of Biden. President Biden has highlighted his Catholic upbringing and reliance upon the Church for comfort during difficult times. On Election Day, Biden won the votes of 52% Catholics, as opposed to former President of the US Donald Trump (47%). Biden’s embrace of his Catholicism may be considered strategic and established a stark contrast with Trump. The pope highlighted this contrast in his many criticisms of Trump, to which Catholic voters paid heed. About Trump’s immigration and border wall policies, Pope Francis said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.”
The pope extended his “cordial good wishes” to Joe Biden on Inauguration Day. Pope Francis said he prays that during times of crises, Biden’s decisions “will be guided by a concern for building a society marked by authentic justice and freedom, together with unfailing respect for the rights and dignity of every person, especially the poor, the vulnerable and those who have no voice.” The close association between President Biden and Pope Francis benefits both.