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Rumored October assembly between Biden and Pope Francis is confirmed

WASHINGTON (RNS) — The White Home introduced Thursday (Oct. 14) that President Joe Biden will meet with Pope Francis on the finish of the month, confirming a long-rumored summit between the pontiff and the second Catholic U.S. president.

In an announcement, White Home press secretary Jen Psaki mentioned the president and first woman Jill Biden have a scheduled viewers with Francis on Oct. 29. Their go to to the Vatican will happen shortly earlier than a G20 Leaders’ Summit slated to convene in Italy that weekend.

“The President and Dr. Biden may even go to Vatican Metropolis and have an viewers with His Holiness Pope Francis on October 29,” the assertion learn. “They are going to focus on working collectively on efforts grounded in respect for basic human dignity, together with ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the local weather disaster, and caring for the poor.”

Biden, who attended Francis’ inaugural Mass in 2013, has met the pontiff on a number of events and shows an image of himself with the pope within the Oval Workplace.

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In line with Biden, Francis personally consoled the then-vice president’s prolonged household throughout the 2015 papal tour of the U.S., after the demise of Biden’s son Beau. In line with former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Ken Hackett, Francis additionally supplied prayers of encouragement when the 2 met once more a 12 months later in St. Peter’s Basilica.

In 1980, as a younger senator, Biden sat with Pope John Paul II for roughly 45 minutes. He additionally met with Pope Benedict XVI in 2011.

However this month’s assembly with the bishop of Rome would be the first since Biden turned president 9 months in the past — the longest in current historical past that an American chief has taken to go to the Vatican. 

The encounter may even be outstanding as a result of it comes after members of the U.S. Convention of Catholic Bishops, citing the president’s stance on abortion, mentioned barring Biden from receiving Communion at their June 2021 nationwide assembly. The bishops have commissioned a doc addressing Communion and public officers, on account of be offered shortly after Biden’s go to to Rome.

Francis has repeatedly cautioned in opposition to politicizing the Eucharist. In September he told reporters he personally has “by no means” denied Communion to anybody at Mass.

RELATED: Pope Francis meets with US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the Vatican

Their go to will come simply three weeks after Francis met with Home Speaker Nancy Pelosi, one other Catholic politician who helps abortion rights, inflicting consternation amongst some conservative Catholics. 

Biden and Francis are certain to agree on the urgency of tackling local weather change, the subject of a 2015 papal exhortation, “Laudato Si’,” and can probably focus on methods to curb the continued pandemic. The Vatican has lengthy advocated for suspending sure mental property rights in an effort to extra broadly distribute COVID-19 vaccines, a place the Biden administration additionally expressed assist for in March — however solely after lobbying from varied teams, together with Catholic organizations.

If the pope has any convincing to do, it could be on Biden’s current immigration coverage. The president’s rhetoric about immigrants and refugees is a sea change from that of his predecessor, however the Biden White Home has drawn criticism from faith-based advocates for initially declining to raise the refugee ceiling considerably and for what was broadly seen as mistreatment of Haitian immigrants alongside the U.S.-Mexico border.

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