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Rome Reports

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What's on the table for Pope Francis and Joe Biden's meeting?


U.S. President Joe Biden will travel to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis on Friday. 

The White House announced that the two will discuss ending the Covid-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor. 

MASSIMO FAGGIOLI
Church Historian, Villanova University
"This meeting happens at a time when it seems the world has turned the corner on the pandemic, and in different ways both the papacy, the Catholic Church, and the United States have been major players in this event."

President Biden is traveling to Rome for the G20 meeting of world leaders from October 30-31, and continuing on to Glasgow to participate in the COP26 UN climate summit. Tackling climate change is a priority of both the Biden administration and Francis' pontificate.

FRANCIS X. ROCCA
Journalist, The Wall Street Journal
"It's pretty clear some issues where the Biden administration is in sync with this pontificate, with the Vatican, and with the U.S. bishops, you know, on migration, on the environment, on a lot of the different programs to reduce poverty, these are things that clearly the Church, that church leaders, are same line about, are enthusiastic about."

President Biden's views on abortion have put him at the center of an ongoing debate among the U.S. Catholic Bishops over who should participate in Holy Communion. 

In September, the Pope was asked about President Biden's situation while returning to Rome from his apostolic visit to Slovakia. 

POPE FRANCIS
"Be a pastor. And a pastor knows what he should do in every situation. But as a pastor, if he moves away from the Church's pastoral approach, then he immediately becomes a politician. And you will see this in all the denunciations, in all the non-pastoral condemnations that the Church makes."

FRANCIS X. ROCCA
Journalist, The Wall Street Journal
"He is meeting with President Biden as a leader, as a head of state, and he has a number of policy issues he will probably bring up or talk about with Biden. It seems to me unlikely that they will discuss the controversy with the U.S. Bishop, that seems unlikely. That may be the elephant in the room, from one point of view, but if I had to bet I would say it won't become explicit."

It is the fourth meeting between Joe Biden and Pope Francis, and the first since Biden was inaugurated president in January. He is only the second Catholic U.S. president in history to meet a pope. 

JM