Biden says Pope Francis OK’d him receiving communion, calling him a ‘good Catholic’ amid abortion debate

Written by on October 29, 2021

ROME – President Joe Biden mentioned Friday that Pope Francis instructed him throughout a non-public assembly on the Vatican that he ought to proceed to obtain communion, elevating doubts about the way forward for a motion by some conservative bishops to punish politicians who help abortion rights.

Biden instructed reporters that abortion, a topic on which they disagree, did not come up throughout their almost 90-minute assembly. As an alternative, Biden mentioned, “We simply talked concerning the reality he was glad that I used to be an excellent Catholic, and I ought to maintain receiving communion.”

Biden mentioned the pope blessed his rosary and that he mentioned a prayer with the pontiff. “And he mentioned one for me,” he mentioned.

Biden and Francis are the world’s two strongest Catholics, and each are below assault by conservative wings of their religion.

The confab between the president and the pontiff was closed to the press, together with barring the TV cameras that usually are allowed in firstly of such conferences.

Notably, the one-on-one dialog lasted significantly longer than the pope’s conversations with the final two presidents. President Donald Trump met with Francis for half an hour in 2017. President Barack Obama spoke with him for about 50 minutes in 2014.

This handout photo by the Vatican Media shows Pope Francis meeting with President Joe Biden at the Vatican on Oct. 29, 2021.

In a video the Vatican released after the assembly, displaying the leaders exchanging items, considered one of Biden’s to the pontiff echoed the themes of each toughness below assault and their shared hope for a extra peaceable phrase.

Whereas Biden mentioned he wasn’t positive whether or not it was applicable, he gave Francis a army coin that he mentioned American presidents bestow on warriors and leaders.

“And you’re the most important warrior for peace I’ve ever met,” he mentioned, earlier than enclosing the coin in Francis’ palm along with his personal hand.

Biden famous that, along with together with the U.S. seal, the coin commemorates his late son’s nationwide guard unit from Delaware.

If Francis doesn’t have the coin the following time they meet, Biden joked, the custom is that he has to purchase the drinks.

“I’m the one Irishman you’ve ever met who’s by no means had a drink,” the tea-totaling president added.

Biden additionally joked about their ages – positing that each really feel quite a bit youthful than their respective years of 78 and 84 – earlier than capping the assembly with considered one of his acquainted expressions that took on a higher significance on the Vatican.

“God love ya!” Biden instructed Francis.

Biden later instructed reporters the assembly had been “great.” Biden mentioned he and Francis additionally talked concerning the “ethical accountability” to take care of local weather change.

It was solely the second time in historical past a Catholic U.S. president is assembly with the pope.

First lady Jill Biden reaches out to touch the hand of President Joe Biden as they arrive for a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, on Oct. 29, 2021.

Biden’s motorcade arrived on the Vatican simply earlier than midday Rome time and was greeted by a dozen Swiss Guards in blue and gold striped uniforms.

Biden and first woman Jill Biden shook fingers with Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, the pinnacle of Papal Family, within the San Damaso courtyard after which greeted a receiving line of a couple of half-dozen papal ushers, or gents.

“It’s good to be again,” Biden mentioned as he shook the hand of considered one of his greeters. “I’m Jill’s husband,” he mentioned to a different earlier than he was ushered into the frescoed Apostolic Palace and brought upstairs to the pope’s personal library.

Be taught extra:Debate over abortion, communion in the spotlight for Biden’s meeting with Pope Francis

The Vatican mentioned it canceled the deliberate reside broadcast of the start of the assembly due to the coronavirus. 

The White Home mentioned after the assembly that Biden lauded the pope’s management in preventing the local weather crises and in advocating for an equitable international financial restoration from the pandemic.

Earlier than the assembly, a lot consideration was placed on whether or not the leaders would focus on an issue on which they disagree – Biden’s support for abortion rights.

One of many agenda objects for the U.S. Convention of Catholic Bishops when it convenes in Baltimore in mid-November is whether or not Catholic politicians who help abortion rights ought to be admonished for receiving Holy Communion.

This summer time, the bishops overwhelmingly approved the drafting of a “teaching document” that a lot of them hope will rebuke Catholic politicians for receiving communion regardless of their help for abortion rights. Although any doc is unlikely to say Biden by identify, its passage can be a transparent admonition of the U.S. president.

Biden didn’t reply a query about whether or not he and Francis mentioned bishops’ convention, saying that’s “a non-public dialog.”

Extra:JFK and Biden: Faith a pressure point for America’s Catholic presidents. Here’s why.

Catholic politicians and abortion 

The assembly between the president and the pontiff comes amid a push by conservative bishops within the U.S. to maintain politicians who help abortion rights from receiving Communion.

Analysts mentioned it was uncertain that Francis would problem Biden’s help of abortion rights and same-sex marriage throughout their assembly however would as an alternative deal with points the place they may discover frequent floor.

The White Home mentioned the main focus can be on issues grounded in human dignity, together with ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the local weather disaster, and caring for the poor.

Although Friday’s assembly marked the primary time Biden and Francis have met since Biden grew to become president, they’ve met 3 times earlier than.

U.S. President Joe Biden and First lady Jill Biden are received by Msgr Leonardo Sapienza, Regent of the Prefecture of the Papal Household, as they arrive at the San Damaso Courtyard for a meeting with Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace on October 29, 2021 in Vatican City, Vatican.

In 2013, when Biden was vp, he led the U.S. delegation to Francis’ formal set up as pope. The 2 males met once more when the pontiff visited the U.S. in 2015 and when Biden visited the Vatican in 2016 to talk about most cancers prevention at a convention on regenerative medication.

After some personal time with the pope Friday, Biden’s assembly was expanded to incorporate different U.S. and Vatican officers, together with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Biden was scheduled to satisfy later with the Cardinal Secretary of State, adopted by conferences with Italy’s president and prime minister and with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Contributing: The Related Press

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