Biden to have audience with Pope Francis during trip to Rome

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will meet with Pope Francis during their trip to Rome later this month for the G20 conference, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

“The President and Dr. Biden will also visit Vatican City and have an audience with His Holiness Pope Francis on October 29. They will discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor,” Psaki said in a statement.

The meeting will come as there is a simmering debate within the US Catholic Church over granting communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion rights, including the nation’s second Catholic President. Biden had been denied the sacrament once in 2019 in the run-up to the election and the issue drew new attention in June when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops proceeded with a plan that could deny communion to such public figures, setting up a potential public rebuke of the President.

The Pope said last month that bishops debating whether to deny communion to public figures who support abortion rights should make their decisions from a “pastoral” viewpoint and not a political one.

“The problem is not theological, it’s pastoral,” Francis told reporters. “How we bishops deal with this principle. We must be pastors, also with those who are excommunicated. Like God with passion and tenderness. The Bible says so.”

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

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