By ARDEN BASTIA From questioning the hypocritical nature of President Biden's Catholic beliefs to finding unity in a tumultuous time, three former mayors and a priest shared their opinions following the inauguration of the 46th President Wednesday.
From questioning the hypocritical nature of President Biden’s Catholic beliefs to finding unity in a tumultuous time, three former mayors and a priest shared their opinions following the inauguration of the 46th President Wednesday.
Father Robert Marciano pastor of St. Kevin Church and president of Bishop Hendricken High School, former West Warwick mayor and former state Republican chairman Michael Levesque of Warwick, as well as former Warwick Mayors Scott Avedisian and Joseph Walsh were reached for interviews.
“As always, when a president is inaugurated, I hope citizens would support him in prayer,” said Father Marciano, first thanking former president Donald Trump. “But I do find it odd that President Biden started his inauguration day with a mass, and then he’ll put his hand on a Bible, and then go and undo the pro-life stance and legislation of Trump.”
Father Marciano believes that “a Catholic president could do a lot to unify people” on the issue of abortion. President Biden’s stance on abortion, according to Marciano, is “incongruous with the Catholic faith. I hope he’s not proud of it, I’m certainly not proud as a Catholic of him.”
“I’m disappointed that no statement came from the Archbishop of Washington, as we’d expect that sanctity of life from every Catholic is non-negotiable,” he said. “Nothing the church stands for will hurt anybody.”
Biden’s stances on immigration, defunding the police, and tax cuts are of concern to Marciano and Michael Levesque.
Levesque shared that these policies were “complete opposites” to what he believes in. “These are policies that I certainly don’t agree with, but Washington has a way of bringing people back to the middle. [Biden’s] more to the center, as someone who listens to both sides,” he said in an interview.
Even though he may not agree with everything President Biden is setting forth, Levesque is willing to give him a chance. “I’m someone that wants to take our new president at his word. I want to give him the benefit of the doubt; I’m not one of those Republicans that is dismissing him outright.”
However, Levesque does agree with Biden’s stances on worker retraining and infrastructure improvements. “I wish Trump got more into that, and I think [Biden’s] spot on,” he said.
“Just as I did when Obama was president, I’m going to defend my president whatever circle he is in,” said Levesque, who also served as U.S. commissioner for employment policy under Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Former Warwick Mayor Joseph Walsh is also supporting Biden, regardless of policy stance.
“I think that the important message from Biden is that of unifying the country. He made it his point over and over again to represent everybody, and hopefully that will be accomplished over his term,” he said in an interview.
In his inauguration speech, President Biden focused on unity among all Americans. “As we look ahead in our uniquely American way: restless, bold, optimistic, and set our sights on the nation we can be and we must be…To overcome these challenges, to restore the soul and secure the future of America requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in democracy: unity, unity.”
Walsh does want to see Biden and “the national government take a more directive role getting the vaccines out and distributing PPE. He can do a lot to improve on the vaccine, addressing the virus, and addressing the economy.”
Walsh also emphasized that the Biden administration embodies the “idealism that America stands for,” and shows promise of progress. Vice President Harris, as a minority and a woman, “is representation for a huge percentage of the population,” said Walsh, who believes that Biden is “what the country needs to move forward.”
Similarly, former Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian, a Republican, has “every confidence that this is going to be a good and upbeat administration,” and sees “any inauguration as a hopeful and optimistic event. I certainly wish our new president all the best.”
Avedisian shared his experiences working alongside Biden in Washington as a teenager, when Biden was a senator. “Having been in the U.S. Senate for several years, his ability to work across the aisle was always much appreciated by Republicans like me,” he said in an interview.
Avedisian said he was most looking forward to the “calmness and respect” that will be brought in under the Biden administration.
“I’m optimistic that there will be some healing after such turmoil and people will give him the ability to set forth directions and to really look at him as someone who can unite the different factions of the country,” Avedisian said.
“My whole soul was in it today,” said President Biden in his speech. “On this January day, my whole soul is in this: Bringing America together, uniting our people, uniting our nation. And I ask every American to join me in the cause.”
Overall, there is an acknowledgment of Biden’s credentials and decades of political experience, as well as a sense of encouragement as he takes office. As Father Marcinao put it, “In the end, a president left, and a president was inaugurated. We’re in the middle of winter, and it’s a time for change. Something dies, and something grows, and change is good. At the end of the day, if we can all have a drink together and get along, that’s all that matters.”