President Joe Biden’s comments about his meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican earlier today are adding to the controversy between U.S. bishops over whether pro-abortion politicians should be able to receive the Eucharist.
Biden stated that the pope told him he was a “good Catholic” and that he could continue to receive communion. Biden also said that he and the pope did not discuss abortion. Pope Francis and the Vatican have yet to respond to these assertions.
The president’s support for abortion contradicts Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life, and some American bishops have said that Biden should be denied communion because he is in a state of public mortal sin for his policies on abortion. Biden was denied communion in South Carolina in 2019.
Pope Francis has taken a softer approach to the controversy surrounding Biden’s reception of communion. The pope has repeatedly emphasized that abortion is murder, but stated last month that he believes Biden’s communion status should be solved pastorally rather than politically.
A planned live broadcast of the meeting was canceled the day before, but a short clip of the greeting was made public.
President Biden giving Pope Francis a Peace Dollar, saying that next time they meet if the Pope doesn’t have it on him the Pope is buying the drinks. Biden says “I’m the only Irishman you’ve met that has never had a drink”, the Pope replies “Don’t they drink a lot of whisky?” pic.twitter.com/TxIxz46KIj
— Catholic Sat (@CatholicSat) October 29, 2021
Biden stated that Pope Francis is “the most significant warrior for peace I have ever met” and then gave him a Peace dollar.
The Biden administration put out this tweet describing what was discussed at the private meeting:
It was an honor to meet with Pope Francis again at the Vatican today. I thanked His Holiness for his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution, and lauded his leadership in fighting the climate crisis and ending the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/PGF5axSK4X
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 29, 2021
The earth’s warming climate has been a prominent topic of discussion in recent days in anticipation of the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference, which will be held in Glasgow, Scotland, from October 31 to November 12.
In the run-up to the global summit in Glasgow, Pope Francis also met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
About 8 percent of South Koreans are Catholic, and Moon is among the faithful. In South Korea, abortion was only decriminalized in January of this year following a motion by the Constitutional Court. Korea currently has a low abortion rate, but its birth rate is the lowest in the world. During his discussion with the pope, Moon recommended that Francis should visit North Korea to ease tensions between the two Koreas. North Korea is incredibly hostile to religions that threaten their “divine” eternal leaders of Juche Korea. Only a handful of churches operate in North Korea, and the Catholic Church there has lost connection with Rome and is heavily directed by the state.
Modi is a staunch Hindu nationalist, and Indians of other faiths have faced greater persecution since his Bharatiya Janata Party took power in 2014. The Catholic Church in India, which operates a robust network of schools and hospitals, is faced with a variety of anti-conversion laws that make the central mission of the Church more difficult. Modi has not taken an explicitly anti-Christian stance, yet he has allowed this persecution to continue.
Biden is the third sitting U.S. president to meet with Pope Francis after Barack Obama and Donald Trump.