President Joe Biden has received Communion at St. Patrick’s Church in Rome during Saturday Vigil Mass, a day after saying Pope Francis told him he should continue to partake in the sacrament.
The president’s support for abortion rights has put him at odds with many U.S. bishops, some of whom have suggested he should be denied Communion. The English-speaking church is the main place of worship for the American Catholic community in Rome and is just down the block from the U.S. Embassy. Biden regularly receives Communion in his home dioceses in Washington and Delaware.
Biden and Pope Francis met Friday at the Vatican to discuss big issues like the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and poverty.
The meeting between what are arguably the world's two most powerful Catholics lasted 75 minutes, which church watchers say is an unusually long time for an audience with the pontiff.
"Biden thanked His Holiness for his advocacy for the world's poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution," the White House said. "He lauded Pope Francis' leadership in fighting the climate crisis, as well as his advocacy to ensure the pandemic ends for everyone through vaccine sharing and an equitable global economic recovery."
After leaving the Vatican, Biden said he had a "wonderful" meeting with the pope and that Francis prayed for him and blessed his rosary beads. Asked what the prayer was about, Biden replied, "Peace."
The President said the issue of abortion did not come up in his meeting with Francis, but that the pope told him he should continue to receive Communion, despite calls from many U.S. Catholic bishops to deny him the sacrament over his pro-abortion stance.
He said Francis told him "he was happy I'm a good Catholic" and that he should "keep receiving Communion."
But this year Biden has been the subject of contentious debate among bishops in the church on whether or not he should receive communion over his extreme pro-abortion views.
Judy Brown, the president and co-founder of the American Life League, the nation's oldest grassroots pro-life educational and advocacy organization, said in a statement this week, "Joe Biden excommunicated himself almost 50 years ago."
Brown who served as a three-time appointee to the Pontifical Academy for Life, disagrees with the Vatican's viewpoint concerning pro-abortion politicians.
"Pope Francis needs to hold Biden accountable and demand he spends every moment he has left on this earth publicly repenting and atoning for the evil of abortion that he has empowered," she said.
In the same statement, Hugh Brown, the pro-life organization's vice president, said, "Joe Biden is no more Catholic than is Lucifer."
"Joe Biden has helped usher in the culture of death and is responsible for the deaths of 65,000,000 children by abortion," Brown said. "Denying Joe Biden the Eucharist is not only necessary but required, as he has direct participation and responsibility for these millions of abortions."
As CBN News reported in June, U.S. Catholic bishops decided not to issue a policy on withholding communion from pro-choice politicians.
The bishops' decision was announced after months of controversy within the Catholic church over Biden's and other politicians' support for abortion. At issue was whether America's second Catholic president should be allowed to receive communion since his actions violate the pro-life, biblical teachings of the Catholic church.
The president has often been described by the White House as a "devout Catholic" and that he takes great pride in his Catholic faith.
But as CBN's Faithwire reported in September, Biden said he "doesn't agree" human life begins at conception. Biden made the comments during a press conference when he was asked about the Texas heartbeat abortion law which has survived court challenges in both state and federal courts. It remains in effect in the Lone Star State.
A challenge to the law by Biden's Justice Department is scheduled to be heard before the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday.
The president told reporters at the press briefing he is "a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade," and argued the legislation — S.B. 8 — "creates a vigilante system where people get rewards to go out, and... anyway."
"I respect people who don't support Roe v. Wade, I respect their views," the president said. "I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception and all — I respect that, don't agree, but I respect that. I'm not gonna impose that on people."
That comment, however, flies in the face of the teaching of the Catholic Church.
The official doctrine of the Church states human life "must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception."
"From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being of life," according to the Catechism, drawing from Jeremiah 1:5, which states, "Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, and before you were born, I consecrated you."
Bishop Liam Cary of the Diocese of Baker in Oregon told NPR in June, "We've never had a situation like this where the executive is a Catholic president opposed to the teaching of the church."
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