WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden attended a liturgy for the first time since taking office, worshiping Sunday at the church he attended when he was vice president.
Biden, the country’s second Catholic president, chooses Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, a few miles from the White House. There, the country’s only other Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, often attends liturgy.
Biden entered through the front entrance, with a Black Lives Matter banner on one side and a banner with a quote from Pope Francis on the other: “We cannot tolerate or close our eyes to racism and exclusion in any form, and yet claim to protect the sanctity of every human life. “
In a brief exchange with reporters, the president said the service was “wonderful.”
His motorcade made a short stop on the way back to the White House for a ride from Call Your Mother, a popular delicacy near the church. The president remained in his armored car while his son took the order.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters on Friday that Biden had not yet settled in a home church in the country’s capital, but said she expected Biden to continue attending regular services during his presidency.
At home in Delaware, Biden and his wife, Jill, were regulars at St. Joseph’s on Brandywine, Greenville. They alternated between Saturday and Sunday services depending on their travel schedules throughout the 2020 campaign. Catholic believers have an obligation to attend Sunday services, but church teaching allows the commitment to be fulfilled by attending worship the night before.
The recently sworn Democrat certainly has many choices in parishes in Washington: Four Catholic churches are 3 miles from the White House; The Holy Trinity is a little further away.
At its inauguration on Wednesday, Biden and his family, along with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, attended a service at one of those churches, St. Matthew’s Cathedral. The church hosted Kennedy’s funeral in 1963.
As the coronavirus is still growing in the capital, Biden will see small crowds wherever he goes. Currently, the rules in the District of Columbia limit the gathering in houses of prayer to 25% of the capacity or 250 people, which is less.
Previous presidents have made a wide variety of choices – or none at all. Not far from the White House is New York Avenue Presbyterian, which maintains the bench where Abraham Lincoln once worshiped. Even closer is St. John’s Episcopal Church, which can be crossed by Lafayette Square by the White House for presidents who have at least once made a historic practice of worshiping there.
St. John’s was included in the headlines this summer when police forcibly dispersed protesters so President Donald Trump could pose with a Bible in front of his oil-yellow front door. But his status as Presidential Church dates back to James Madison and is accustomed to the special controls that come with accepting commanders-in-chief. Trump, who often spent Sundays at his eponymous golf club in Northern Virginia, was not a regular visitor to the church.
President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary, became members of the Foundry United Methodist Church on a short trip from the White House, which also reported to 19th President Rutherford. B. Hayes, as a member.
President Jimmy Carter, who taught Sunday school during his presidency, honored dozens of times at Washington’s First Baptist Church during his time at the White House.
Associated Press writers Will Weissart and Elana Shore contributed to this report.