Biden: The Pope said to him that he should "keep receiving Communion"

President Joe Biden claimed Pope Francis said to him that he should continue receiving Communion. The two world's most prominent Roman Catholics ran overtime on highly personal discussions about climate change, poverty, and the coronavirus panademic.

Biden: The Pope said to him that he should "keep receiving Communion"

 They also discussed the death of the president's adult son, and made jokes about how we age well.

Biden's support of abortion rights and same-sex marital union has placed him at odds to many U.S. bishops. Some have suggested that he should be denied Communion.

Biden stated that abortion was not discussed at the Vatican meeting. Biden stated, "We just discussed the fact that he was happy to see me as a Catholic and should continue receiving Communion."

The Vatican released video that showed Biden and Francis enjoying a warm and relaxed moment. They repeatedly shake hands and smiled. Although Francis is known for his stern face in official photos, he looked happy Friday. According to the Vatican, the private meeting lasted approximately 75 minutes. This is more than twice the usual length of an audience with Francis.

They sat together at a desk in a library of the papal church, with a translator. The pair then had an extended meeting with the first lady, and other top officials. Biden was more than an hour late due to the lengthy session.

The White House stated that Biden thanked His Holiness "for his advocacy for world's poor, those suffering from hunger and conflict, as well as for his support for persecution." "He praised Pope Francis' leadership in combating the climate crisis and his advocacy for ensuring the pandemic ends to everyone through vaccine sharing, an equitable global economic recovery.

Biden is proud of his Catholic faith and uses it to guide many of his economic and social policies. Biden wears a rosary, and attends Mass every week.

Biden stated that he had a wonderful time at the Vatican and that the pope had prayed for him. He also blessed his rosary beads. Biden answered, "Peace" when asked about the prayer.

Biden and Jill arrived to find twelve Swiss Guards, dressed in blue and gold striped uniforms, and red-plumed Halberds, standing in the San Damaso court. Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza welcomed them and then met with each of the papal ushers (or papal gentlemen) who lined up in front of the courtyard.

Biden said, "It's great to be back," as he shook hands with one of them. He told another, "I'm Jill’s husband," before being led upstairs to the private library of the pope in the frescoed Apostolic Palace.

According to the Vatican, Biden gave Francis a woven Chasuble (liturgical vestment) that was made by Gammarelli in 1930. It was used by the Jesuit order of the pope in the U.S. where it was kept in the archives at Holy Trinity Church, Biden’s regular parish in Washington. According to the White House, it will make a donation in the pope’s honor.

Holy Trinity has a rich history in America and played an important role in advocating civil rights, desegregation, and abolition since its founding in 1787. John F. Kennedy, first Catholic U.S. President, worshipped here.

Biden also placed what is known as a "challenge coin" in the hands of Francis during a handshake and called him "the most important warrior for peace that I've ever seen."

Biden's Delaware home state is depicted on the personalized coin, as well as a reference to Beau's military unit (261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade). Biden said that Beau would have preferred him to present the coin at the pope.

Biden referred to the coin by saying, "The tradition is, I'm not kidding about this, but the next time we see you, you must have it, even if you don’t have it." Biden added, "I'm not the only Irishman that's never had one."

Francis laughed and replied: "The Irish brought whisky."

Biden, who is 78, also told the story of Satchel Paige, an American baseball player who was Black and played into his fifties in a parable on aging. Biden quoted Paige saying, "How old would it be if we didn't know what age you were?" Biden continued, "You're 65, but I'm 60," Francis, 84, laughed and pointed at his head.

The Vatican stated that Francis presented Biden with a tile made of ceramic depicting the iconography and pilgrimage of Francis. He could be heard asking Jill Biden "pray for us" in the Vatican video.

This warm encounter was a stark contrast to Donald Trump’s 2017 meeting with Francis with whom he had a bitter relationship. Photos of the 30-minute meeting show a grim-faced Francis standing next to a smiling Trump. Biden's meeting was also longer than the 52 minutes Barack Obama spent in 2014 with Francis.

Biden will be visiting Rome, then Glasgow, Scotland for back-toback summits. First, a gathering of leaders of the Group of 20 leading or developing nations, and then a global conference on climate change.

Biden and Francis had previously met three times before, but Friday's meeting was their first since Biden became president.

Biden also met Friday with the Group of 20 summit host, Sergio Mattarella, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

In an effort to repair relations with France, he will meet with President Emmanuel Macron. This is part of a plan to reconcile with France following the U.S. decision to supply nuclear-powered submarines from Australia to the U.K., thereby cancelling an existing French contract.

The controversy surrounding Biden's meeting in Rome with Pope Francis was averted when the Vatican cancelled plans to live broadcast the meeting and denied access to the press. Matteo Bruni, a Vatican spokesperson, said that the revised TV plan reflected the virus protocol applicable to all heads of state audiences. He did not say why the Vatican had originally scheduled more extensive live coverage but then cancelled it.

Instead, the Vatican provides edited footage of the encounter for accredited media.

As the U.S. bishops prepare to meet in Baltimore in three weeks for their annual fall convention, this visit was timely. Conservatives are trying to block Biden's ability to receive Communion. Although it is unlikely that any document from the event will name the president, he could still face some sort of rebuke.

Francis stressed that he won't reject political leaders who support abortion rights. However, Catholic policy allows bishops to decide whether or not to prohibit people from receiving Communion.

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