By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
Biden made the claims after spending some 90 minutes with Francis in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
In potentially bombshell remarks, Biden told reporters that the pope said he was a “good Catholic” who should keep receiving “holy communion.”
“We just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic, and I should keep receiving communion,” Biden said.
However, the Vatican declined to confirm Biden’s recollection of these events, and some experts expressed their doubts.
Matteo Bruni, the Vatican spokesman, said the “Holy See limited its comments” to the news release about subjects discussed during the meeting. “It’s a private conversation.”
The apparent show of support would mark the first time the pope has pushed back against a campaign by conservative bishops in the United States.
They had urged the pope to deny Biden, a fellow Roman Catholic, the sacrament of
communion because he supports abortion rights.
“I fear that the Church has lost its prophetic voice. Where are the John the Baptists who will confront the Herods of our day?” wondered Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, on social networking site Twitter.
He earlier tweeted to urge Francis to challenge Biden “on this critical issue” of abortion. Biden’s “persistent support of abortion is an embarrassment for the Church and a scandal to the world,” Tobin wrote.
In the U.S., about 22 percent of all pregnancies, excluding miscarriage, reportedly end in abortion. That results in about 3,000 abortions per day or nearly 1 million annually, according to official estimates.
Asked if he had spoken with the pope
about abortion, President Biden said no, but that the topic of him receiving communion had come up.
Asked about the U.S. communion debate last month, the pope told reporters earlier that abortion is “murder.”
But he also appeared to criticize U.S. Catholic bishops for dealing with the issue in a political rather than a pastoral way. “Communion is not a prize for the perfect. … Communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his Church,” the pope said.
The pope also exchanged gifts with Biden, including a ceramic tile with an etched design, as well as his recent writings. And presents included Biden handing over a challenge coin — historically collectible pieces of recognition that originated in the military. Biden said the coin he handed Francis had insignia of the 261st Signal Brigade unit in the Delaware Army National Guard.
It was the unit in which the president’s late son, Beau Biden, served as a captain. The pope had previously held a private meeting with Biden after his son passed away of cancer.
One other drama-free meeting came later when Biden sought to strengthen relations with Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy ahead of the Group of Twenty (G20) summit.
Draghi has rebranded himself as a European leader who believes European military independence can coexist with a commitment to the U.S.-led NATO military alliance.
But it scuppered a deal for France to build 12 conventional submarines, which Australia signed in 2016.
“What we did was clumsy,” Biden stressed. “I was under the impression that France had been informed long before that the deal was not going through, honest to God.”
It wasn’t immediately clear on what information that impression was based on.
Macron, whose government briefly recalled the French ambassadors from the U.S. and Australia over the dispute, said it was essential to “look to the future.” He added: “Trust is like love. Declarations are good, but the proof is better.”
The Aukus pact, which also covers Artificial Intelligence and other technologies, is one of Australia’s biggest defense partnerships in decades. It is seen as an international effort to counter China’s military advances.
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