The pope and president, who meet at the Vatican on Friday, are the common targets of conservative American bishops seeking to undercut them.

When Joseph R. Biden Jr. visits the Vatican on Friday, he will be the third American president Francis has met since becoming pope in 2013. Each has marked a distinct phase not only of his papacy, but also of the political upheaval in the United States and in its Roman Catholic church, the New York Times reports.

President Barack Obama shared Francis’ global magnetism, celebrity wattage and a focus on immigrants, climate change and the poor. President Donald J. Trump, whose Christianity Francis once questioned for his anti-immigrant policies, ushered in a populist era that helped sideline Francis.

Now Mr. Biden, a Catholic who rarely misses Sunday Mass, arrives at a moment when the political polarization in America has seeped deeply into its Catholic church. The president and pope, who share common ground on many issues, have become common targets of powerful conservative American bishops seeking to undercut them.

The most hostile among them, appointed by Francis’ conservative predecessors, have either ignored or resisted the pope’s efforts to reorient the priorities of the church toward inclusion and social justice, and away from culture war issues like abortion and L.G.B.T.Q. rights.

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