Politics Biden to meet Pope Francis amid some rifts with US bishops
Biden to meet with Pope Francis to discuss COVID-19, climate
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to meet Pope Francis when he visits the Vatican later this month as part of a five-day swing through Italy and the U.K. for global economic and climate change meetings. Biden plans to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis and poverty during his meeting with the pope, according to the White House. The meeting will take place on Oct. 29, and Biden will then attend a two-day summit of G-20 leaders in Rome, before heading to Glasgow, Scotland for the U.N. climate conference known as COP26. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Sept.
There’s an intriguing subplot to. The world’s two most prominent Roman Catholics will be celebrating a shared outlook on church teaching and vital social issues even as Biden faces over his stances on abortion and LGBTQ rights.
Less than three weeks after Biden’s visit to the Vatican on Friday, the American bishops will convene in Baltimore, with one of the agenda items inspired in part by conservatives who contend that Biden’s support for abortion rights. Though any document that emerges is not expected to mention Biden by name, it’s possible there could be a clear message of rebuke.
Biden set to meet pope as US abortion debate rages
President Biden, only the second Catholic president in U.S. history, will have an audience with Pope Francis on Friday, a meeting that comes amid increasing focus on the issue of abortion rights, which Biden has made a priority of defending. The Supreme Court has agreed to review Texas's six-week abortion ban after legal challenges from the Biden administration, and the president faces a lawsuit in Ohio for overturning a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals, all while U.S. Catholic bishops are debating whether Biden should be denied communion over his stance on the procedure.
“This is way beyond embarrassing,” said Massimo Faggioli, a professor of historical theology at Villanova University who recently authored aabout Biden and Catholicism.
“For some of the bishops, it’s an act of intimidation" toward Biden, Faggioli said. “And they have a pope who is protecting a Catholic president’s access to the sacraments — he’s had to send a signal from the Vatican saying, ‘We don’t think this is wise.’”
The pope upholds Catholic doctrine opposing abortion and same-sex marriage, but he has irked some conservative Catholics in the U.S. and elsewhere by emphasizing other issues that mesh with Biden’s priorities — protecting the environment, combating racial injustice and poverty, for example.
The pope and Biden “see eye to eye on many issues,” Faggioli said. “But they both are really embattled, facing very strong headwinds ... fighting against different kinds of ideologues.”
Joe Biden, 2nd Catholic president, to meet Pope Francis amid US bishops' criticism
Joe Biden, the second Catholic president, meets Pope Francis Friday amid criticism from U.S. bishops over his stance on abortion. Biden, only the second Catholic elected to the White House after John Fitzgerald Kennedy, spoke of the moment's significance last month.
Biden is only the second Catholic president of the United States., after John F. Kennedy, and displays his faith openly, often wearing a rosary and. The devotion dates to childhood; he has expressed gratitude to the nuns who helped bolster his confidence while he struggled with
“Wherever there were nuns, there was home,” he wrote in his 2007 memoir “Promises to Keep.” “My idea of self, of family, of community, of the wider world comes straight from my religion.”
White House Press Protest Over Ban on Live Coverage of Biden's Pope Visit
Joe Biden's first meeting as U.S. president with Pope Francis at the Vatican will not be broadcast live. © Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images Pope Francis waves, next to US Vice President Joe Biden, on a balcony after speaking at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on September 24, 2015. Joe Biden's historic first meeting as U.S. President with Pope Francis in Rome will not be broadcast Vatican-accredited journalists and photographers have not been granted access to the initial handshake and have objected in writing to the Vatican's cancelation on Thursday.
His faith was tested, but not weakened, afterin 1972.
“I never doubted that there was a God, but I was angry with God,” he told The Christian Science Monitor in 2007.
In that same interview, Biden conveyed why he considers himself a faithful Catholic despite his views on abortion.
“My views are totally consistent with Catholic social doctrine,” Biden said. “There are elements within the church who say that if you are at odds with any of the teachings of the church, you are at odds with the church. I think the church is bigger than that.”
Francis already has made clear he won't shun U.S. political leaders who support abortion rights. On Oct. 9 he met at the Vatican with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, whose abortion stance has drawn the wrath of the top Catholic in her hometown of San Francisco, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.
Cordileone has been urging the U.S. bishops conference to send a message to Biden, Pelosi and others “that would move them in their conscience.”
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“They need to understand the scandal that is caused when they say they are faithfully Catholic and yet oppose the church on such a basic concept,”.
Under Catholic policy, decisions regarding exclusion from Communion are left to individual bishops. While Cordileone has discouraged Pelosi from receiving Communion in his archdiocese, Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, has made clear that Biden is welcome to receive Communion when he attends services there.
whether Biden and like-minded politicians should be denied Communion, avoided a “yes” or “no” answer, saying bishops must minister to such people with “compassion and tenderness.” He warned that clerics shouldn’t let politics influence decisions about receiving Communion.
Abortion is not the only issue placing Biden in opposition to the U.S. bishops. He is a strong supporter of the proposed Equality Act, which would extend federal civil rights protections to LGBTQ people nationwide.currently stalled in the Senate, would violate the religious freedom of churches and individuals opposed to same-sex marriage and various transgender-rights policies.
The meeting this coming week will be Biden’s first encounter with Francis since becoming president, but he has met him three times before: first when Francis was inaugurated as pope in 2013; later during the pontiff’s 2015 visit to the U.S.; and in 2016, when Biden visited the Vatican for a conference on regenerative medicine, where he spoke on cancer prevention.
Biden the Sinner
The president’s meeting with Pope Francis will come at a delicate time for both leaders.Sitting in the dark-brown pews that Saturday evening—where the first Roman Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, had once prayed—Joe Biden listened attentively. Father Kelley’s address made an impression on the president. A couple of days later, another Holy Trinity pastor, Kevin Gillespie, was on the golf course waiting for the group up ahead to finish a hole when he checked his phone for messages. He had a missed call from the Biden administration. The president was requesting a copy of the pointed homily. “It ruined my next shot, I was so excited,” Gillespie told me.
Francis repeatedly reaffirmed his opposition to abortion in recent weeks, calling the procedure “murder” and defending the right of conscientious objectors to refuse to participate in it. He has likened abortion to “hiring a hitman” to solve a problem.
Chad Pecknold, a professor of theology at The Catholic University of America, doubts that the pope will confront Biden over his support for abortion rights, but said many Catholics — bishops included — may wish that would happen.
“I think the Catholic faithful have a right to hope for this, and to express their concern for the soul of Mr. Biden," Pecknold said.
The Biden-Francis visit “could actually highlight the urgent need to unite around a clear and coherent view of how the bishops should respond to politicians who publicly hold the Church’s teaching in contempt while presenting themselves for Holy Communion,” Pecknold added via email.
Steven Millies, a professor of public theology at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, said the meeting will affect the debate over abortion and Communion “in a way that will produce a lot of heat and very little light." He doubts Francis will see a need to discuss abortion with Biden.
“It’s not going to get anybody anywhere,” Millies said. “On the other hand, there’s a great deal to be accomplished by focusing on areas of aligned concerned and shared interest.”
When Kennedy became the first Catholic president in 1960, abortion was not the divisive issue that it is today. Not until 1973 was there a nationwide right to abortion, and Kennedy felt no pressure to take a public stance.
Anti-Catholic prejudice was common as Kennedy campaigned. Some Protestant ministers questioned whether he could maintain independence from the Catholic Church.
Unlike Biden, Kennedy enjoyed overwhelming support from Catholic voters, winning about 80% of their votes in 1960, according to researchers at Georgetown University. Biden was backed by about half of Catholic voters in the 2020 election.
AP News Researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York contributed to this report.
Associated Press religion coverage receives support from the Lilly Endowment through The Conversation U.S. The AP is solely responsible for this content.
Biden is America's most prominent Catholic. The church's most conservative wish he wasn't. .
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