Blinken meets with pope, gets private tour of Sistine Chapel

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday met with Pope Francis and received a private tour of the Sistine Chapel.

Blinken is in Italy this week for a meeting on the crisis in Syria but stopped in Vatican City to meet with the leader of the Catholic Church.

“It lasted about 40 minutes, and it was for the pope, the occasion to recall his 2015 visit and to express his affection and his attention to the people of the United States of America,” Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni told The Associated Press

Blinken’s visit comes as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops begins the process of drafting a formal statement declaring what the meaning of communion is and clarifying if politicians who support abortion rights should be allowed to receive the sacrament. 

Conservative Catholics in the U.S. have criticized President Biden for his support of eliminating the Hyde Amendment, a controversial measure prohibiting the use of federal funds for certain abortion services. 

Biden and the White House have repeatedly said the president is personally opposed to abortion but politically supports women’s reproductive health care rights. 

Blinken’s meeting with Francis also comes as the U.S. faces increasing pressure from the world to hold China accountable for reported human rights abuses against minorities, an issue Francis has championed during his time as pope. 

“I think often of persecuted peoples: the Rohingya, the poor Uyghurs, the Yazidi — what ISIS did to them was truly cruel — or Christians in Egypt and Pakistan killed by bombs that went off while they prayed in church,” Francis said in a new book last year.

Tags Antony Blinken Antony Blinken Catholic Church Joe Biden Joe Biden Pope Francis Pope Francis

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