Pope Francis Calls Biden a 'Good Catholic' Amid Abortion Debate in US
19:41 GMT 29.10.2021 (Updated: 19:42 GMT 29.10.2021)
US President Joe Biden said Friday that during his meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, the Pope told him he should keep receiving Holy Communion, as fierce abortion debate flares in the US.
Biden arrived at the Vatican on Friday for talks that surrounded climate change and injustice, but the meeting reportedly
became overshadowed by the US Roman Catholic Church’s debate on whether he should be banned from receiving the sacrament following the US President’s support for abortion rights, according to The Guardian.
In a cryptic statement, Biden said the Pope told him he was happy he was a “good Catholic.”
The president, who allegedly goes to weekly mass regularly and keeps a picture of the pope behind his desk in the Oval Office, has come under pressure from conservatives at home and church bishops who religiously classify abortion as a grave sin.
Biden has said he is personally opposed to abortion, but cannot impose his views as an elected leader — a political stance that clashes with Catholic principles.
The official teachings
of the Catholic Church support the idea that human life begins at conception, opposing all forms of abortion procedures whose direct purpose is to destroy a zygote embryo fetus.
Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, asked the Pope in a tweet to please challenge President Biden on the critical issue of abortion.
In June, a divided conference of US Roman Catholic bishops voted to draft a statement that should specifically admonish Catholic politicians, including Mr. Biden, from communion.
Pope Francis has reportedly
stressed that he will not reject political leaders who support abortion rights, and told reporters last month that abortion is “murder,” but went on to criticize US Catholic bishops for dealing with the issue in a political manner.
“Communion is not a prize for the perfect ... Communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his Church,” the pope said, according to a CNN report, adding that bishops should use “compassion and tenderness” with Catholic politicians who support abortion rights.
However, Catholic policy allows individual bishops to choose whether to prevent people from taking communion.
Despite warnings from the Vatican, the bishops are preparing to meet in Baltimore to take up the issue again next month.
A US Supreme Court hearing on the restrictive abortion law that recently was put into effect in Texas is scheduled to take place Monday.
During the unusually long meeting Friday, the pope allegedly
urged world leaders to take “radical decisions” at next week’s Cop26
global environmental summit in a special message recorded for BBC Radio.
“Climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic have exposed our deep vulnerability, and raised numerous doubts and concerns about our economic systems and the way we organise our societies.”
Biden is due to speak at Cop26 on Monday.
The Vatican's press office released footage
of the president's visit, and said in a statement
that Biden and Pope Francis "focused on the joint commitment to the protection and care of the planet, the healthcare situation and fight against COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the theme of refugees and assistance to migrants."