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Biden says pope thinks he is a ‘good Catholic’, further fuelling U.S. abortion debate By Reuters


© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden arrive at Fiumicino airport to attend the G20 summit of world leaders and meet Pope Francis on the Vatican forward of the president’s journey to Glasgow for COP26, close to Rome, Italy, October 29, 2021. REUTERS/Okay


By Jeff Mason and Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden stated on Friday that Pope Francis advised him he was a “good Catholic” who can obtain communion, widening a gulf between Francis and conservative U.S. bishops who wish to deny it due to Biden’s assist for abortion rights.

Biden and the pope held an unusually lengthy 1 hour and 15 minute assembly on the Vatican as a debate raged again residence on the difficulty.

Asked if the subject of abortion got here up, Biden stated: “No it didn’t… we just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving communion,” Biden advised reporters.

The president, who goes to weekly Mass frequently and retains a image of the pope behind his desk within the Oval Office, has stated he is personally against abortion however can’t impose his views as an elected chief.

In June, a divided convention of U.S. Roman Catholic bishops voted to draft https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-bishops-vote-draft-communion-statement-that-may-rebuke-biden-abortion-views-2021-06-18 a assertion on communion that some bishops say ought to particularly admonish Catholic politicians, together with Biden. They take up the difficulty once more subsequent month.

But the pope’s feedback to Biden, who disclosed them at a photograph alternative with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, might make it unimaginable for the bishops to observe by way of on their plans.

Asked if he and the pope mentioned the U.S. bishops, Biden stated “that’s a private conversation.”

Biden’s most ardent critics within the U.S. Church hierarchy doubled down forward of the go to.

“Dear Pope Francis, you have boldly stated that abortion is ‘murder’. Please challenge President Biden on this critical issue. His persistent support of abortion is an embarrassment for the Church and a scandal to the world,” Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, stated in a Tweet earlier than the assembly.

After the assembly, Tobin Tweeted: “I fear that the Church has lost its prophetic voice. Where are the John the Baptists who will confront the Herods of our day?,” apparently evaluating Biden to King Herod, who beheaded the preacher John for calling out the king’s sins.

Last month, the pope advised reporters that abortion is “murder” https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/pope-says-abortion-is-murder-us-bishops-should-not-be-political-2021-09-15 however appeared to criticise U.S. Catholic bishops for coping with the difficulty in a political moderately than a pastoral approach.

“Communion is not a prize for the perfect. … Communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his Church,” the pope stated, including that bishops ought to use “compassion and tenderness” with Catholic politicians who assist abortion rights.

Since his election in 2013 as the primary Latin American pope, Francis has stated that whereas the Church ought to oppose abortion, the difficulty shouldn’t grow to be an all-consuming battle in tradition wars that detracts consideration from issues similar to immigration and poverty.

Biden’s assembly with the pope got here three days earlier than the U.S. Supreme Court https://www.reuters.com/world/us/us-supreme-court-hear-challenge-texas-abortion-ban-2021-10-22 hears the primary of two main instances this 12 months difficult a sequence of state legal guidelines backed by Biden’s rival Republicans limiting abortion rights. Abortion opponents hope the court docket will overturn the landmark 1973 Roe vs Wade resolution that legalised the process nationwide.

Both the White House and Vatican statements made no reference to the abortion challenge.


The White House stated Biden thanked the pope for “his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution”. Biden additionally praised the pope’s “leadership in fighting the climate crisis, as well as his advocacy to ensure the pandemic ends for everyone through vaccine sharing and an equitable global economic recovery”.

The Vatican stated the 2 mentioned “care of the planet”, well being care, the pandemic, refugees, migrants, and “the protection of human rights, including freedom of religion and conscience”.

The Vatican stated the personal assembly lasted one hour and quarter-hour after which about one other quarter-hour had been spent for image taking and the trade of presents within the presence of different members of the delegation, similar to Biden’s spouse, Jill.

The assembly with former President Donald Trump in 2017 lasted about half-hour and one with Barrack Obama in 2014 lasted about 50 minutes.

Biden gave the pope a “command coin” typically awarded to troopers and leaders and advised him: “You are the most significant warrior for peace I’ve ever met.”


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