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White House denies Vatican canceled a meeting between Biden and Pope Francis

Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF

  • The White House denied Tuesday that the Vatican had canceled a meeting between Pope Francis and President Joe Biden.
  • As Catholic bishops convene to discuss a number of church topics, including whether the pro-abortion president should be denied communion, a report emerged that the Vatican had cancelled a meeting between the Holy Father and the president scheduled for Tuesday. 
  • A White House spokesman denied this report to the Daily Caller News Foundation Tuesday morning, saying, “That is untrue.”

The White House denied Tuesday that the Vatican had canceled a meeting between Pope Francis and President Joe Biden.

As Catholic bishops convene to discuss a number of church topics, including whether the pro-abortion president should be denied communion, the Catholic News Agency reported that the Vatican had canceled a meeting between the Holy Father and the president scheduled for Tuesday.

A White House spokesman denied this report to the Daily Caller News Foundation Tuesday morning, saying, “That is untrue.” CNA has updated its story to note that it “erroneously reported that the U.S. President would meet with the pope on June 15.”

Biden’s team had also requested that Biden attend Mass Tuesday morning with the pope, a “reliable Vatican source” told CNA, and the Vatican reportedly refused this proposal in light of current controversy over Biden’s reception of Holy Communion.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment from the DCNF about the alleged proposed Mass. The Vatican has not responded to requests for comment.

Public affairs officer at the U.S. embassy to the Holy See Emily Zeeburg told the National Catholic Reporter Online that Biden does not have plans to visit Rome or the Vatican this week, and the Vatican’s foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher told the publication he had “no knowledge” of plans for a meeting between Biden and the pope.

The president will travel to Rome in October, the publication reported.

During the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) national meeting this week, the bishops will reportedly discuss whether to tell the president, and other high profile Catholic politicians like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, not to receive Communion at Mass if they continue to publicly advocate for abortion.

In an early May letter, the Vatican’s Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Luis Ladaria warned the archbishops to approach public discussion of the matter with caution.

Any new policy “requires that dialogue occurs in two stages: first among the bishops themselves, and then between bishops and Catholic pro-choice politicians within their jurisdictions,” Ladaria wrote, according to the Catholic News Service.

Not all Catholic clergy agree on whether Biden should be denied communion, though the Catholic Church teaches that abortion is “a crime against human life,” “constitutes a grave offense” and that a person who obtains an abortion is automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church.

Washington, D.C., Archbishop Wilton Gregory said in late November that he would not deny Biden Communion, adding that Biden went to Mass and received Communion while he served as former President Barack Obama’s vice president.

“I’m not going to veer from that,” he said in an interview with America Magazine.

But other archbishops have frankly said that if Biden persists in his support for abortion, they would ultimately ask him to refrain from Communion.

San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone warned pro-abortion Catholic public figures not to receive Communion at Mass if they find that they “are unwilling or unable to abandon” their “advocacy for abortion.” The archbishop told the DCNF in a May interview that clergy should first have conversations with high profile pro-abortion politicians like Biden before denying them Holy Communion.

“In the case of President Biden or any other prominent Catholic, I think what I would do is if I knew that they were coming into the area here and planned to attend Mass, I would try to have those conversations as well ahead of time,” he said.

“If we don’t say anything, if we don’t speak out, then we are also culpable,” Cordileone told the DCNF. “I tremble at the responsibility that God has given me … When it comes to pastoral application of church teaching, that’s where pastoral discretion is needed, different judgments might be made by different bishops in different situations.”

“But in the case of someone so prominent as the president of the United States, again this is a scandal, and it’s causing confusion in the minds of our Catholics,” he added.

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