Administration

Biden says pope provided family with ‘great solace’ after son’s death

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President Biden became emotional Sunday when discussing his relationship with Pope Francis, days after the two met at the Vatican.

“Pope Francis has become a, I don’t want to exaggerate, has become someone who has provided great solace for my family when my son died,” Biden said at a press conference in Rome when asked what it meant for the pope to call him a good Catholic during their meeting.

Biden said when the pope came to Washington, D.C. in 2015 while he was vice president, his son Beau had just passed away. He recalled that the pope asked to meet with his family on a hangar at the Philadelphia airport, where he spent 10 to 15 minutes talking to the family about his late son.

“He knew about him, he knew what he did, he knew what he was, he knew where he went to school, he knew what a man he was,” Biden said, adding that the conversation had a “cathartic impact” on Beau’s child and first lady Jill Biden.

“A lot of this is just personal,” Biden said.

Biden did not respond to another question about whether the pope’s comments to him put to rest a debate in the U.S. over whether or not he should receive communion.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is expected to put out a formal statement next month on the meaning of Holy Communion, which will include whether pro-abortion rights politicians should be denied taking it.

Biden said on Friday the pope described him as “a good Catholic” and said that he should keep receiving communion.

“This is a man who has great empathy, he’s a man who understands part of his Christianity is to reach out and forgive,” Biden said on Sunday about the pope.

Biden also noted that the pope responded “who am I to judge” when asked about homosexuality and the church, a famous comment he made in 2013.

“He is a really, truly, genuinely decent man,” Biden said. “This is a man who is someone who is looking to establish peace and decency and honor, not just in the Catholic church but just generically.” 

Biden also recalled the pope called him when he won the White House in 2020 to tell him he appreciated that he would focus on the poor and focus on the needs of others during his presidency. 

“He is everything I learned about Catholicism,” Biden added.

Biden, only the second Catholic president in U.S. history, regularly goes to church and touts his faith as a deeply personal aspect of his life.

His meeting with the pope lasted for 90 minutes, and the two exchanged gifts, including a presidential challenge coin and handwoven chasuble used by the pope’s Jesuit order.

He also thanked the pope for his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution.

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