Story at a glance
- Pope Francis told President Biden he should continue receiving communion.
- The approval from the pope appeases criticism from U.S. bishops that wanted to deny Biden communion over his support of abortion rights.
- Biden is only the second Catholic president in U.S. history.
President Biden met with Pope Francis in Rome on Friday and the two discussed if Biden should continue receiving communion, despite his support of abortion rights.
Biden met with the pope in a closed-door meeting and afterwards told reporters, “We just talked about the fact that he was happy that I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving communion,” said Biden, according to Bloomberg.
However the Catholic church’s discomfort with Biden’s pro-choice stance became clear just as he was inaugurated, with Josė H. Gomez, archbishop of Los Angeles and president of United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, releasing a statement that included, “I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.”
The issue escalated over the summer, as Roman Catholic bishops of the U.S. pushed to deny Biden communion due to his support of abortions. That support directly contradicts Catholic church teachings that say, “abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”
However, the Vatican issued a warning to not create division over the issue of Biden receiving communion after American bishops tried to push a vote on denying communion to the president. Pope Francis even weighed in on the issue in September, saying, “I have never refused the eucharist to anyone,” according to The New York Times.
The pope also emphasized that bishops should focus on being pastors, not politicians.
Today’s meeting between the pope and Biden confirms the president’s religious beliefs do not interfere with his political stances. It also attests to the broader consensus among American Catholics, with two-thirds saying Biden should be allowed to receive communion when responding to a Pew Research Center survey.
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