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Journalists protest as Vatican cancels live coverage of Joe Biden greeting Pope Francis

Courtney Mares   By Courtney Mares for CNA

Pope Francis and Joe Biden in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 24, 2015. | Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images.

Vatican City, Oct 28, 2021 / 10:30 am (CNA).

One day before U.S. President Joe Biden is due to meet with Pope Francis, the Vatican canceled its scheduled live broadcast of the meeting without explanation.

Journalists in the Vatican press corps — who will also not be allowed to have a pool representative present for the initial handshake due to current Vatican COVID-19 protocols — have protested at the last-minute cancelation.

The Associated Press reported on Oct. 28 that it had formally complained to the Vatican about the canceled live stream, along with members of the Vatican correspondents’ association.

Steven Portnoy, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said that the group declared its solidarity with Vatican reporters in “expressing our disappointment that the world won’t see live pictures of President Biden’s meeting with Pope Francis.”

“Reporters have been covering the papal audiences of American presidents since Woodrow Wilson sat w/Benedict [XV] in January 1919,” Portnoy, a CBS News Radio correspondent, wrote on Twitter.

“Our fully-vaccinated & masked pool of reporters is ready to continue this public service, mindful of its own safety as well as the leaders’, to ensure independent coverage of the first Catholic president in 60 yrs meeting with the head of the Catholic church,” he said.

White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki also addressed the Vatican’s media restrictions at a press briefing.

“What I can assure you of is that we are working, through every lever we have, to advocate for access for the press pool and for press when the president visits the Vatican,” Psaki said.

“We believe in the value of the free press. We believe in the value of ensuring you have access to the president’s trips and his visits overseas.”

Before the pandemic, Vatican protocol allowed for a small group of journalists, including the president’s own media pool, to be present for the first handshakes and the initial exchange as they sat down before the formal and private conversation. Journalists were again present to witness the exchange of gifts.

The Vatican has indicated that it will now only provide live footage of the arrival of the U.S. president’s motorcade at the Apostolic Palace, which some journalists will also be allowed to attend.

The meeting between Biden and Pope Francis is scheduled to start at noon on Oct. 29 and last for about an hour.

Biden has previously met Pope Francis on three occasions, but this will be his first face-to-face meeting with the pope as the 46th president of the United States and the country’s second Catholic president.

According to the White House, the president plans to discuss “ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor.”


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25 Comments

  1. If I were pope and actually intended to have a substantive conversation on morals and the sacramental life with a Catholic head of state befuddled by invincible ignorance, or worse, I would also tell the secularist media voyeurs to take a hike. At least the atheist journalist Scalfari won’t be favored, this time, to misreport what Pope Francis may or may not say.

    Hoping that this media blackout is a good sign. Maybe a meeting between a president and a pope is more than a presidential tourist stop dressed up with a Vatican walk-on in a white hat

    • On the other hand, the optics of the titular head of the Roman Catholic Church cozying up to President Biden–a well-known abortion proponent–may not be so edifying for the faithful.

  2. Agree! Also that the CNA owned by the serial Pope Francis basher EWTN do not misreport this time similar to what it did implying and highlighting that Pope Francis was upset with Fr. James Martin during a meeting with a group of U.S. Bishops in September 2019.

  3. Let’s pray that the reason for this is that the Pope is going to give the president a talking-to and wants to keep it private.

    • That must be it. His appointment of Sachs to the Pontifical Academy on Social Sciences earlier this week should have clued us in on what he is up to. What a surprise Joe is in for! I can’t believe Nancy is going to let the poor guy walk right into this trap Francis has laid for him. God bless our crafty Pope!

  4. In my mind, both of these mere mortals were fraudulently elected. One by the Gallen Mafia and the McCarrick Syndicate and the other by corrupt Progressives slivering in The Swamp.

  5. I would argue that part of the reason the Vatican cancelled the press coverage is not to avoid Biden using the PR, but rather, so the Catholic world doesn’t see its’ Pope schmoozing and glad-handing one of the biggest proponents of abortion in America.

  6. The White House and secular medias complaints are pretty hypocrite. Everybody understands that this very publicized meeting is part of the internal cultural battle in the US. Emerson’s comment above is a good proof. I hope Francis starts to understand that powerful and far fromn vulnerable people are trying to use him.

  7. I agree. Perhaps the Pope wishes to address the scandal being created by the current “Catholic” administration and everyone has a right to privacy during a pastoral visit. I’m praying it’s a good thing … plus another photo-op send the message of approval which adds to the mixed message.

  8. All the dominos were lined up in a row for the MSM to show a smiling dementia riddled
    Joe arm and arm with a equally smiling Pope Francis in a photo OP.This would of course bring instant elation to the socialist/liberal flock of the Catholic Church.See even our
    Pope finds common ground with “Joe” on Abortion,and a host of other Evil practices championed by “Joe” and 26% of Americans who self identify as liberal.

  9. It’s difficult to accurately discern what the exact motivation is behind the cancellation. After the Pelosi/Francis love fest was splashed all over the place for the world to see, one would expect this incoherent and dangerous Pontificate, to paraphrase Father Rutler, to give the same treatment to her fellow heretic, dementia Joe.

  10. The Vatican has promised video after Chairman Joe and Francis meet. It will undoubtedly edit out the pope slapping Joey and asking him, “What are you thinking?”

  11. Pious hopes and fervent prayers that Bergoglio is going to convert Biden from his decades of pro-abortion extremism are well and good, but I think it far preferable to take Divine Wisdom’s instruction that men are known by their actions as my guide in determining whether Bergoglio and Biden are anything other than bloviating hypocrites.

  12. The Catholic World Report could only report about the Pope-President meeting from this angle? Nothing more positive, substantial, and in-depth? Has CWR shamelessly shown itself to be more of a propaganda organ of a political action committee than a Catholic publication “with and under the Pope”? Is it just catering to a small sector of the Catholic Church in America? CWR should join the Facebook bandwagon and change its name into the Catholic Village Report!

    • ” Nothing more positive, substantial, and in-depth? ”

      Ever hear the adage “you can’t get blood from a stone”?

    • This article is written by Catholic News Agency. CWR merely passes along CNA’s their newsworthy items, as a service to its readers.

      The comment section is your source for immediate in-depth substance. Next week, after the news has meshed and settled and bubbled anew with the help of the Holy Spirit, essays with meat, vegetables, and dessert will arrive. Stay tuned.

      Of course you yourself could always submit a comment which is positive, substantive, and in-depth rather a smear. Think about it if your mind is big enough.

  13. The Pope is experienced enough to know that Democrats in the US (including “journalists”) will exploit any opportunity to generate publicity for Biden and the Catholic vote. Obviously, the Pope knows all about “fake news.”

  14. By their fruits you shall know them. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, and the evil tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, shall be cut down, and shall be cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits you shall know them (Mt 7: 16-20).

  15. Myself all for transparency — authentic transparency — I can only breathe a sigh of relief that we are spared the theater of the “pious Biden” before the South American Jesuit.
    Now I do hope that the actual reason access has been denied is that the Holy Father was fulfilling his responsibility to Almighty God, humanity and to the Church in this private meeting to bring to correction pious Biden on life issues, sexual morality and a host of other realities. Of course the web of disingenuousness binding in inextricable intimacy Church and globalist power has likely precluded realization of that hope.
    Trust in Jesus Christ alone. Men will inevitably fail us.

  16. Biden came out of meeting with pope and said “ the pope told me I was a good Catholic” I hope not but the pope looked on pelosi and Biden with awe. We need to start protesting this pope

  17. “No, it didn’t. It came up,” Biden told reporters when asked if “the issue of abortion [came] up at all” during his meeting with the pope. “We just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic, and I should keep receiving communion.”

    – Reported by Washington Examiner, 10/29/21

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