President Joe Biden received communion at St. Patrick’s Church in Rome a day after he said Pope Francis called him “a good Catholic” amid the ongoing debate over whether pro-abortion Catholic politicians should be given the sacrament.
Biden attended the mass on Saturday evening at the church in Rome, where he was taking part in a summit of the G20 world’s richest nations. He sat in the back of the church with his wife, Jill, and received communion, Reuters reported.
“Pope Francis is also the bishop of Rome, so Biden went to mass and received communion in his archdiocese,” the newswire said, noting that the president regularly attends mass and receives communion in Washington.
Biden, the first Roman Catholic to serve as president of the United States since John F. Kennedy, has clashed with Catholic Church leadership in the U.S. over his steadfast support of abortion.
After Biden’s meeting with the pontiff on Friday, a reporter asked if the issue of abortion came up during the conversation. While Biden insisted that the topic did not come up, he said, “We just talked about the fact that he was happy I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving communion.”
Concerns about Biden receiving communion date back to his 2020 presidential campaign when a priest in South Carolina denied him communion because of his support for a policy that directly contradicts Catholic Church teaching.
Biden has said while he is personally opposed to abortion, he cannot impose his views on others as an elected official.
Supporters of denying communion to Biden and other pro-abortion Catholic politicians point to the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law, which states that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion” as the justification for their position. They also cite a 2004 letter from then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would later become Pope Benedict XVI, to two high-ranking officials in the U.S. Catholic Church, noting that “the Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is a grave sin.”
Last month, when Pope Francis was asked about the U.S. communion debate, he called abortion, even soon after conception, “murder,” but added, “Communion is not a prize for the perfect … Communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his Church,” according to the newswire.
At its General Assembly meeting earlier this year, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops voted to move ahead with the drafting of a document clarifying “the meaning of the Eucharist in the life of the Church.” Initially characterized as a rebuke to pro-abortion Catholic politicians, the USCCB emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”
According to a question-and-answer document about the vote published by the USCCB, “The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”