Vatican suspends broadcast of live greeting from Biden to Pope

On Thursday, the Vatican abruptly cancelled the live broadcast of President Joe Biden and Pope Francis. This is the latest restriction on media coverage of Holy See.

Vatican suspends broadcast of live greeting from Biden to Pope

The Vatican press office did not explain why the live broadcast of Biden’s visit was cut to only cover the president's arrival in the Apostolic Palace courtyard, where a Vatican monsignor is expected to greet him.

Any live coverage of Biden greeting Francis in the palace Throne Room was cancelled, as well the live footage of Biden and Francis seated to start their private talks in Francis’ library. At this point, the cameras would normally have stopped running.

According to the Vatican, it will provide edited footage after the fact to accredited media.

Biden, the second Catholic U.S. President, has already met Francis three times before, but this will his first meeting as president.

Since U.S. bishops were due to meet in just a few weeks for the annual fall convention, the audience was closely watched. One of the agenda items was inspired by conservatives who believe that Biden's support of abortion rights should prevent him from receiving Communion.

Although it is unlikely that any document from the bishops conference will mention Biden, it is possible that there may be a clear message to rebuke.

Francis strongly supported the church's opposition against abortion calling it "murder" but he said that bishops should be pastors and not politicians.

Since years, the Vatican has broadcast live television coverage of visits of important heads of state. It had planned such coverage Friday for Biden, and previously for South Korean President Moon Jae In, who is in Rome this weekend for a Group of 20 meeting.

Live broadcasts are especially important since the Vatican has not allowed journalists or independent photographers into papal audiences ever since the COVID-19 pandemic. Even though other papal events allow them in, the Vatican continues to use the pandemic to justify denying external media access to papal audiences.

Reporters can see the gifts being exchanged and hear remarks from the leaders as they depart and arrive at the library to get a feel for how the pope and their guest got along. Only the official papal photographer and Vatican video journalists can now enter.

The Vatican correspondents' group has protested the cancellation. Several media outlets including The Associated Press complained about Thursday's live broadcast of the Biden-pope broadcast, and requested an explanation.

Jen Psaki, White House spokesperson, was asked about Biden's limited access to media. She said that the administration was working through all the options to gain more access.

Biden is traveling with his own team of reporters, who would normally be allowed to enter the library of the pope for the beginning and ending of the audience.

"We believe in free press. Psaki stated during a White House briefing that he believes in the importance of providing access to the president's overseas trips and visits.

She noted that Biden was an invited guest, and that the Vatican was the host.

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