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March 11, 2021

Young Catholics and the Biden Administration: Moral Principles and Policy Priorities

Young Catholics and the Biden Administration: Moral Principles and Policy Priorities Video Player

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The election and inauguration of the second Catholic president of the United States has put faith front and center in a new administration and Congress governing amid a pandemic, a reckoning on racial injustice, an economic crisis, and a deeply divided nation. The Biden administration offers Catholics opportunities to work together toward shared goals on overcoming COVID-19, reducing poverty, supporting immigrants and refugees, and pursuing racial, economic, and environmental justice. There are also fundamental challenges on abortion and some religious liberty questions. Some parts of the Catholic community are divided on how to assess and work with this Catholic president and engage with his administration on policy issues.

This online conversation addressed how young Catholics assess the Biden administration and its priorities, exploring how to best advance principles of Catholic social thought during this challenging time. This gathering included a young public interest attorney and advocate; a Latino Catholic scholar and journalist; a conservative journalist and commentator; a law student who has been a leader at the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and Young Catholics for Biden; a national political strategist at the intersection of faith and public life; and a Catholic grassroots leader and advocate at the U.S.- Mexico border.

This diverse group of young leaders explored and answered questions such as:

  • What is it like to work among young Catholic writers and advocates? On the ground serving those in need? In national politics at the intersection of faith and public life?
  • What are the Biden administration’s policy priorities in the coming months? What is likely to move forward given the divided Congress?
  • Where can Catholics work together with faith and integrity on shared values and goals with the president and his administration? How should we pursue our principles when we disagree, for example on abortion funding and the Hyde Amendment?
  • In the wake of a bitter election, impeachment, and the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol, how will the Biden administration work to bring Americans together?
  • Is our politics broken, or can we work together towards what Pope Francis calls “a better kind of politics” focused on serving those in need? How can young people help bring the country together and advance the common good?

Kim Daniels, co-director of the Initiative, moderated the discussion.

Resources

View a list of articles, books, podcasts, and other resources for this gathering.

This Salt and Light Gathering and Latino Leader Gathering was for Catholics under 40 years old who seek to explore the links between faith, Catholic social thought, and their lives and work and was supported by the Democracy Fund.

Participants

Serena Alvarez

Serena Alvarez

Serena Alvarez is an attorney and advocate for healthcare equity and against physician-assisted suicide, especially among the Latino community in California and across the United States. Serena is a graduate of Stanford Law School and a member of the state executive board for the League of United Latin American Citizens.

Milton Javier Bravo

Milton Javier Bravo

Milton Javier Bravo is an adjunct professor of theology at St. John’s University and the director of audience development at Commonweal. He earned his doctorate in philosophy from Fordham University's Center for Catholic Leadership.

Ramesh Ponnuru

Ramesh Ponnuru

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor at National Review, where he has covered national politics and policy for more than 25 years. He is also a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Tim Shriver, Jr.

Tim Shriver, Jr.

Tim Shriver, Jr., is the former president of the Jesuit Volunteer Corps and a former national co-chair of Catholics for Biden. He is currently pursuing a dual degree in religious studies and law at the University of Virginia.

Michael Wear

Michael Wear

Michael Wear is a leading strategist, speaker, and practitioner at the intersection of faith, politics, and public life. He is the founder of Public Square Strategies LLC and author of Reclaiming Hope: Lessons Learned in the Obama White House About the Future of Faith in America (2017).

Joanna Williams (SFS’13)

Joanna Williams (SFS’13)

Joanna Williams (SFS’13) is the new executive director of Kino Border Initiative (KBI). She is the former director of education and advocacy at KBI and has been a key leader in the advocacy work of the Jesuit Migration Network of Central America and North America.