CHICAGO (NewsNation Now) — President Joe Biden said Pope Francis told him he should continue to receive Holy Communion, as the two prominent Roman Catholics spoke for roughly 75 minutes.
Biden, a staunch defender of abortion rights, said the topic did not come up during his meeting with the leader of more than 1.3 billion Catholics across the world. The president’s position on abortion has put him at odds with many U.S. bishops, some of whom have suggested he should be denied Communion.
John Moody, former Rome bureau chief for Time magazine, said the pope didn’t want to publicly criticize Biden before or after the meeting.
“Clearly, this pope has not departed from the Catholic Church’s hard line about abortion,” said Moody. “And therefore they have agreed not just to disagree, but agreed not to bring it up. So I think they probably talked for 90 minutes. I think they exchanged pleasantries and gifts.”
While the pope didn’t openly clash with Biden, Moody believes the lack of live television coverage for the meeting may have been a “snub” of the president.
“There was the surprising development last night when the Vatican announced that it would not permit live coverage of Mr. Biden’s arrival to the Vatican. They did do some clips, obviously, but that was a snub,” said Moody.
The pair sat across from each other at a desk in the papal library, accompanied by a translator. They then proceeded to an exchange of gifts and a broader meeting including the first lady and top officials. The lengthy session put Biden more than an hour behind schedule.
“Biden thanked His Holiness for his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution,” the White House said. “He lauded Pope Francis’ 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 visit came as U.S. bishops prepared to meet in roughly three weeks in Baltimore for their annual fall convention. Among the agenda items is an effort by conservatives to disqualify Biden from receiving Communion. Any document emerging from the event is unlikely to single out the president by name, but he still could face some form of rebuke.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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