Biden has private audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican

President Biden with Pope Francis
Associated Press

President Biden on Friday had a private one-on-one visit with Pope Francis in Vatican City, a highly anticipated closed-door meeting between only the second Catholic president in U.S. history and the pontiff.

Upon the president and first lady’s arrival to the Vatican, Biden shook hands with Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, who runs the papal household. He then went down a receiving line of Papal Gentlemen to greet them.

“It’s good to be back,” Biden said while in the greeting line. “I’m Jill’s husband.” 

Biden wore a dark blue suit and first lady Jill Biden wore a navy skirt suit with a mantilla, which is a shawl worn over the head and shoulders.

Biden was then escorted into the frescoed Apostolic Palace and into Francis’s private library for their one-on-one, closed press meeting that began around noon CEST. They were slated to meet for about an hour and then Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.

The pope and the president were expected to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor. Also in attendance in the meeting were the first lady, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, among others. The pope had 10 Papal Gentlemen join him in the meeting.

The Vatican will provide edited footage of the pope and Biden greeting each other but there was no live broadcast of the meeting after the Vatican abruptly canceled plans for it on Thursday.

The Vatican press office did not provide an explanation for why the broadcast was canceled. Meanwhile, the White House has deferred to the Vatican on questions over media access for the visit this week. 

The president and pope’s meeting comes as U.S. Catholic bishops are debating whether Biden should be denied communion over his stance on abortion. Biden has met with the pope three times before and this is their fourth meeting.

After the visit to the Vatican, Biden will hold a bilateral meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, followed by a bilateral meeting with Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy. Later in the day, he will meet with French President Emmanuel Maron. 

On Saturday and Sunday, the president will participate in the Group of Twenty (G20) summit in Rome.

He will meet with United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and again with Macron on Saturday. On Sunday, he is scheduled to hold a press conference.

Tags Antony Blinken Biden trip abroad Jake Sullivan Jill Biden Joe Biden papal visit Pope Francis Pope visit Vatican Vatican City

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