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Vatican declines to comment on whether pope told Biden to keep receiving Communion in ‘private conversation’

CNA Staff   By CNA Staff

Pope Francis meets President Joe Biden on Oct. 29, 2021. / Vatican Media/CNA

Vatican City, Oct 29, 2021 / 10:52 am (CNA).

The Vatican declined to comment Friday on U.S. President Joe Biden’s statement that Pope Francis encouraged him to keep receiving Holy Communion during a private audience.

The Vatican, which has a long-standing policy of not commenting on specific statements attributed to the pope during private meetings, emphasized that the encounter between the two men on Oct. 29 was “a private conversation.”

Matteo Bruni, the director of the Holy See press office, told reporters: “I would consider it a private conversation, and it is limited to what was said in the public statement.”

Bruni was referring to a press release issued by the Vatican saying that the two men spoke about the environment, the coronavirus pandemic, refugees, and human rights.

According to the White House pool report, Biden told reporters that he and the pope did not discuss abortion during their 75-minute meeting.

Asked whether the issue came up, the president replied: “No, it didn’t. It came up — we just talked about the fact that he was happy I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving Communion.”

Unlike past meetings between the pope and a head of state, the Vatican did not allow media to be present when Biden and Pope Francis met and no video live stream was provided.

Biden, the second American Catholic to become president, has supported taxpayer-funded abortion during his first year in office, and has issued statements in defense of legal abortion.

The issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians receiving Communion has been a matter of widespread discussion during his presidency.

After Biden’s election, Archbishop José Gomez, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference president, noted the disagreement between the president and the conference on the issue of abortion.

In November, the U.S. bishops will meet in Baltimore, Maryland, for their fall general assembly, at which they are expected to vote on a teaching document about reception of the Eucharist.

Pope Francis has previously called abortion “murder,” compared the action to “hiring a hitman,” and said that unborn victims of abortion bear the face of Jesus.

He has also called on clergy to take a pastoral rather than a political approach towards Catholic legislators who support the practice.

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  1. As a Catholic and living in a country where over 60 million abortions from 1973 to 2020 and what the world would have been like with 60 million more people living in the US. Why isn’t the Vatican or Pope Francis commenting on abortion? President Bident is a horrible Catholic fully standing behind abortions. His party, the Democrat Party has fully endorsed late-term abortions, even after birth to make the baby comfortable and then decide if the baby needs to be killed. I’m not saying this has come from his administration, but his party in various states like Virginia and New York. In a time where Roe VS Wade has the potential to be overturned and to not “have the topic of abortion” discussed, and to not state anything after President Biden’s remarks after his meeting with Pope Francis, is likened to supporting the 60 million+ deaths attributed to abortion. Thank you for your time.

  2. St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 5 states that an individual be excommunicated for having sexual relations with his stepmother and coming to communion. I pose the following question to Pope Francis “Which is the greater sin, sexual relations with your stepmother or abortion?”

    • Ooooooo, relativism, the bishops like this kind of comparison; i.e., J&J is more immoral than Moderna or Pfizer.

  3. That photo says it all. Bergoglio giggling with delight.

    I hope the March for Life in January has this photo on every placard as protestors ignore the capitol and white house and detour to the nunciature. Maybe another branch of protestors can walk up to USCCB headquarters with photos of Cupich, Tobin and Gregory, all smiling with Bergoglio and Biden. Our Church has become a farce. God save us.

    • Bravo, Mr. Pfannenstiel. That is exactly what needs to be done with these clerical laughing hyenas. Yes, the Catholic Church has become a farce because bishops and priests have almost universally refused to confront and denounce evildoers like Bergoglio, Cupich, Tobin, and Gregory.

      • The faithful have a sense, strong but often undefined, of what Christianity is about. The traditore clergy and hierarchy, not so much.

    • What does this Church actually believe? I’m not sure I know any more.

      Prominent politicians call themselves Catholic and openly promote abortion in all stages, in every manner, and advocate for U.S. taxpayers to finance such killings all around the world, in numbers too vast to track.

      The bishops who object I can count on my fingers.

      Meanwhile, half of American Catholics vote for these politicians habitually, without giving a thought to the scores of millions of children who are lost because of their votes. Their active and willful agency in this holocaust of babies is nearly never mentioned from the pulpit in their parishes. Is it not of even the slightest concern to the Church?

      And the bishops — and now, apparently, the pope — do business with these blood-ravening politicians every day, business-as-usual, without so much as paying lip service to these dead and dying children.

      And yet these same bishops support the closing of their churches for months on end when facing a virus with a mortality rate of one percent.

      Why the difference? Maybe because the bishops themselves can’t contract abortion?

      Honestly, I’m struggling with my commitment to a faithless church led by corporate yes-men and bureaucrats, and peopled by bloody handed functionaries who do the bidding of their ideological betters without question, without hesitation.

      If these tens of millions of dead babies don’t matter, what does?

      Suffering Jesus, have pity on us.

      • Brineyman,

        What you say is painfully true. How can Heaven ignore the 60 million murdered children whose blood cries to Heaven for justice! Oh Heaven, we are a sinful people. We beg you have mercy on us and raise up great souls, who are brave and unabashed in their passion for Jesus Christ Crucified. Yes, Lord Jesus, too many of the leaders of your Church here on earth, have become intoxicated with Satan’s sublime kool aid poison from Hell. Yes, Lord Jesus, send us souls like St. John the Baptist, St. Peter and St. Paul, St. John Chrysostom, St. Catherine and others, whose lives were unabashedly committed to your Eternal Truth, and nothing more. And then, COME LORD JESUS!

      • You wisely ask: “If these tens of millions of dead babies don’t matter, what does?”

        Biden and Francis apparently consider as more important: Climate, poverty, and the pandemic.

        We could safely excommunicate ourselves from thinking of these motley fools as leaders of a Christian free world. Repeatedly they’ve proven themselves to be confused, confusing, and disordered caricatures of any semblance of good leaders.

        By what remedy may we rid ourselves of the shame they bring upon us and the death knells they ring for themselves? Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

  4. I guess Francis is just to shy to brag about his converts and how he recognized the urgency of the situation and convinced Biden to no longer be an agent for mass murder anymore. Gotta love the humility of the man.

  5. So we’re to believe that if during World War II the Pope had met with Hitler, the topic of Jews being gassed in concentration camps and their bodies burned in ovens would not be discussed? Then, for certain, Pius XII could have rightfully been called “Hitler’s Pope.” And those were a mere 6 million persons murdered.

    Fast forward to Pope Francis meeting with the head of our government who has directly influenced by policy decisions and funding the death of 60,000,000 persons. Are we to believe that the Vicar of Christ would not bring up the topic of abortion in that meeting – for this is exactly what Biden stated?

    Unless Biden is a bold-face liar (remember, the Vatican has not said otherwise) what then should we rightfully call this Pope? And would Pius XII have instructed Hitler to, “by all means, do go and receive the Holy Eucharist”?

  6. It appears that Pope Francis is walking toward the “dark side” should it be true he truly advised President Biden that he is a good Catholic and he may continue to receive holy communion (through which the Holy Eucharist becomes the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ).

  7. This is the worst possible outcome. It leaves the bishops and the faithful hanging. It’s like not answering the dubia. Passive aggressive. I feel abused.

  8. Both sides of this event have revealed themselves as utterly pathetic. It is nothing less than sickening to see “leadership” in the most powerful nation in the world and in the Church which was previously the strongest moral voice in the world reduced to a level of vacuous impotent posturing.
    Gut wrenching to observe.

  9. Abortion is a moral issue but if the president and Congress and anyone else wants to separate private moral matters from being debated, then why not take a full court press against abortion with science? We don’t have to mention religion if it’s too difficult for the president to bring his deeply held beliefs on the body politic. We can just give him the science of a separate, human life being terminated simply because one or more human beings who have the power in the situation use that power to snuff out the life of the innocent one.

    • Yes! Let’s follow the science to prove once and for all that at the moment of conception, a human life has begun. As if in 1973 those supreme court justices didn’t know this science then.

    • Speaking as a physicist. I think “science” is the worst argument of all. Since science has nothing whatsoever to do with value judgments, it is easy for “science” to be abused to where a pro-abort can deny personhood based on an argument of material functionality. No, the arguments must always focus on the meaning of intrinsic worth, which can be advanced independent of religion. I am not only a scientist, I am a former pro-life atheist, now a Catholic pro-lifer.

      • I get your point but I’m not sure many people in the wider culture do. I just got finished listening to a radio ad that recommends a gubernatorial candidate because “he listens to science,” suggesting that his opponent does not. This is where people’s minds are these days, so I think it’s important to respond to this mindset that wants to keep science to itself.

  10. A pastoral approach to politicians who support the murder of babies in the womb would be to instruct them on Canon 915, which says that those indulging in mortal sin should not present themselves for reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. If Francis told Biden (and this is a big if) that he is a good Catholic and should keep going to Communion, it was likely a nice albeit subtle way of telling Biden to go to hell. Nothing pastoral there.

  11. A pastoral approach to politicians who support the murder of babies in the womb would be to instruct them on Canon 915, which says that those indulging in mortal sin should not present themselves for reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. If Francis told Biden (and this is a big if) that he is a good Catholic and should keep going to Communion, it was likely a nice albeit subtle way of telling Biden to go to hell. Nothing pastoral there.

    • You said it. If Francis did his job, including his pastoral obligation, Biden would have come out of the meeting with an ashen solemn expression, in fact, they both would have.

  12. If someone or head of state would claim that Pope Francis said that he does not really believe in climate change or that nations have the right to control immigration, or that he does not have any problem with pollution, would the Vatican refuse to clarify what the pope said on that private conversation?

    • Good point. There is the possibility that the conversation about abortion – which The NY Times quotes Biden as saying did not happen (which makes one wonder why the pope had to reassure Biden about his standing as a Catholic) – took place in the sacrament of reconciliation. If so, the pope would not be able to speak about the conversation. This, of course, does nothing to clear up the whole mess. If Francis can say that abortion is like hiring a hit man, why can’t he tell a member of his flock that he is demonstrating support for that great evil and should stop at once?

  13. PETA is far more effective in stopping the mistreatment of dogs and being moral agents than this Pope is in stopping the murder of human persons. Maybe Francis ought to hire some PETA people for his Curia. They’ll instruct him in how to go about it.

  14. Certainly if using aborted/infanticide cell lines vaccines for saving bodily life is morally permissible in certain circumstances, using non-abortive fidelity to the 8th Holy Commandment as a spiritual vaccine for saving the soul’s eternal life is not only morally permissible but morally mandated, in certain cases, to avoid the harm and death of sins of scandal and their adverse effects. Let such a note be forthcoming.

    2491 Professional secrets – for example, those of political office holders, soldiers, physicians, and lawyers – or confidential information given under the seal of secrecy must be kept, save in exceptional cases where keeping the secret is bound to cause very grave harm to the one who confided it, to the one who received it 𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐝 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐲, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐦 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐮𝐥𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡. Even if not confided under the seal of secrecy, private information prejudicial to another is not to be divulged without a grave and proportionate reason.

    What is the grave harm:

    𝟐𝟒𝟖𝟑 𝐋𝐲𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐦𝐨𝐬𝐭 𝐝𝐢𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐭 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐧𝐬𝐞 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡. 𝐓𝐨 𝐥𝐢𝐞 𝐢𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐩𝐞𝐚𝐤 𝐨𝐫 𝐚𝐜𝐭 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐢𝐧 𝐨𝐫𝐝𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐥𝐞𝐚𝐝 𝐬𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐨 𝐞𝐫𝐫𝐨𝐫. 𝐁𝐲 𝐢𝐧𝐣𝐮𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐦𝐚𝐧’𝐬 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐧𝐞𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐛𝐨𝐫, 𝐚 𝐥𝐢𝐞 𝐨𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬 𝐚𝐠𝐚𝐢𝐧𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐟𝐮𝐧𝐝𝐚𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥 𝐫𝐞𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 𝐨𝐟 𝐦𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐨𝐟 𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐨𝐫𝐝.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church
    To Catechism home page


    Respect for the souls of others: scandal

    2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.

    2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” 86 Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing. 87

    2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!” 90

    • Well explained Pater, your response, as understood to this article and Vatican silence. There are instances as the Catechism teaches, that secrecy is not always a good. CCC 2491 Where keeping the secret is bound to cause very grave harm to the one who confided it, to the one who received it 𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐝 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐲, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐰𝐡𝐞𝐫𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐠𝐫𝐚𝐯𝐞 𝐡𝐚𝐫𝐦 𝐜𝐚𝐧 𝐛𝐞 𝐚𝐯𝐨𝐢𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐨𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐛𝐲 𝐝𝐢𝐯𝐮𝐥𝐠𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐭𝐫𝐮𝐭𝐡. Your highlight of 𝐭𝐨 𝐚 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐫𝐝 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭𝐲 in the Biden Francis exchange would, to my understanding reference the members of the Church. Persons laity, clergy seeking clarity on Eucharistic cohesion. Again, it is my interpretation that there’s grave harm in counselling someone that the Eucharist can be licitly received by a Catholic who favors and expands abortion rights. That in doing so leads to “scandal and responsibility for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged”. Grave harm also pertains then to the person giving permission as well as the party receiving it. The party receiving it, if lying is in grave danger for lying on a crucial faith issue misrepresenting the Roman Pontiff. If he is telling the truth the secret is already divulged granting the Pontiff freedom to acknowledge it. If lying the Pontiff is obliged to correct a grave and misleading lie for sake of the salvation of the alleged recipient as well as for the scandalized members of the Church. I would add here, if hypothetically a man were intending to deceive the Church to believe that a grave sin can be granted liceity due to circumstances [like political expediency or any other rationale] while simultaneously openly and clearly condemning that sin, would not that be a powerful means of achieving that evil intent? Silence and what it suggests can achieve that end.

  15. The reason the media was banned from the Papal Audience with Biden is obvious: Two elderly men, both suffering from serious Foot in Mouth Disease, were bound to say something outrageous and/or stupid. Therefore keeping the meeting under wraps was perhaps necessary to avoid scandal.

    • Johann, I would like to agree with you although this is a serious matter because of what it conveys, especially to the faithful. Archbishop Viganò has received criticism on some matters. Today he issued a statement that rings true: “Even if what Biden said corresponds perfectly to the intemperate quips of Jorge Mario Bergoglio – who called a notorious radical abortion activist a great Italian – it is evident that such statements represent an unheard of scandal, since they fail to condemn the positions of a political personality who supports abortion, disavow the immutable position of the Magisterium of the Church, and resound as a blatant invitation to commit sacrilege, profaning the Most Holy Eucharist by receiving it in the state of public and manifest sin” (Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in the Remnant 10.31.21).

  16. The pope has a responsibility to publicly address a public objectively sinful act. This cannot be a private matter. Biden and other Catholic politicians have made it a public demonstration of support for grave sinfulness. The Vatican cannot hide behind “it’s a private conversation.” This is a scandal of enormous gravity. If Bergoglio remains silent on what Biden said and allows Biden’s characterization of their conversation to prevail, Bergoglio is complicit in this grave scandal.

  17. Unless the Vatican issues a statement denying Biden’s claims, we are witnessing a watershed moment in the life of the Church. The final confrontation that JPII talked about in 1976 is in full swing. The “storm” that a number of Catholic mystics have said is coming can’t be simply dismissed as the work of overactive imaginations.

    • This disastrous pope is a scandal worse than the sexual abuse catastrophe. The bishops had better muster up courage, if they are even capable of that anymore. The crisis has arrived. And Bergoglio is laughing.

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