The Holy See has denied U.S. President Joe Biden’s request to attend a Mass officiated by Pope Francis this morning, June 15.
Biden is in Europe on his first international trip as U.S. president. The President’s entourage had initially requested Biden to attend Mass with the pope early in the morning.
Biden receiving Holy Communion from the pope’s hands could impact discussions about Eucharistic coherence, which the U.S. bishops’ conference plans to have during its meeting that begins on Wednesday, June 16.
The U.S. bishops expect to take a joint position on whether or not to deny communion to Catholic public figures, such as Biden and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, also Democrat Nancy Pelosi, who support abortion. The U.S. bishops are slated to vote on creating a committee to draft a document about Eucharistic coherence.
In the face of the Holy See’s refusal, Biden did not go to the Vatican. He travels today from Brussels to attend a meeting with G7 leaders and Geneva for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on June 16.
Biden has met with Pope Francis on other occasions. The first time was in September 2015, when the Pontiff visited the United States to attend the World Congress of Families in Philadelphia. At the time, Biden was vice president.
The following year, on April 29, 2016, during the final months of the Obama administration, Biden went to the Vatican for a summit on regenerative medicine, where he praised Pope Francis and advocated a global push for a cure for cancer.
At that time, Biden opened his speech at the Vatican by recalling how, while visiting the United States in September of the previous year, Pope Francis had comforted him after the loss of his oldest son Beau. The latter died at the age of 46 of brain cancer.