President Joe Biden will meet in-person with Pope Francis at the end of October, White House press secretary Jen Psaki announced Thursday.
Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will make the visit prior to participating in the G20 Leaders Summit in Rome from October 30-31. Biden identifies himself as a devout Catholic, though he publicly rejects the Church’s teachings on abortion. (RELATED: White House Denies Report That Vatican Canceled A Meeting Between Biden And Pope Francis)
“The president and Dr. Biden will also visit Vatican City and have an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis on October 29,” Psaki announced. “They will discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor.”
Biden met with Pope Francis once before as vice president when Francis visited the U.S. in 2015.
Biden’s relationship with The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has been fraught since gaining office. The USCCB voted in June to move forward with a statement clarifying the meaning of Communion, including whether pro-abortion politicians such as Biden should be denied it. The statement is still forthcoming, however.
Francis has not publicly weighed in on his stance on denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He himself has said he has never denied any person Communion, though is not aware of any time a pro-abortion politician came to him for Communion.
The USCCB has also denied reports that the Vatican asked it to hold off on drafting a statement on Communion.
“The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation,” the USCCB said in late June. “Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.”