President Joe Biden Receives Communion at Mass in Rome

He also spoke at a news conference about how Pope Francis offered him and his family solace after the death of his son Beau.

In the above video still, President Joe Biden addresses a press conference in Rome Oct. 31.
In the above video still, President Joe Biden addresses a press conference in Rome Oct. 31. (photo: C-SPAN Twitter screenshot; last visited 10/31/21)

U.S. President Joe Biden received Communion during Mass Saturday evening in Rome, according to a report from The Associated Press.

Biden met with Pope Francis on Friday, during which, he says, Pope Francis told him to “keep receiving Communion” despite his views on abortion. In response, the Vatican declined to comment.

According to the AP, about 30 people attended the Mass at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, which had a large security presence. The president and his wife sat in the last row.

The report stated that Mass was celebrated by Father Joe Ciccone and two concelebrating priests and that Biden was seen putting U.S. currency in the collection basket. 

“Communion is what brings us together in the Lord. None of us are pure and perfect. We struggle through life. We’re all saints and sinners," celebrant Father Ciccone told the AP. 

“When you’re a public figure you have to make certain decisions, especially in a democracy, on behalf of more than just your own personal feelings,” Father Ciccone said, according to the AP.

St. Patrick’s Church is located near the U.S. Embassy and is the main place of worship for many Americans in Rome. The church, which is within the pope’s archdiocese, offers all Masses in English. 

It is the same church Nancy Pelosi attended when she visited Pope Francis earlier this month. Pelosi and her husband left Mass on Oct. 9, before the second reading, because of a security incident.

Biden was in Rome for the G20 Heads of State and Government Summit. He met with Pope Francis for 75 minutes on Friday, during which they did not discuss abortion, Biden told reporters afterward. Biden said that he and the Pope prayed for each other and discussed climate change.

“We just talked about the fact that he was happy I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving Communion,” Biden said. 

Unlike past meetings between the pope and a head of state, the Vatican did not allow media to be present when Biden and Pope Francis met. No video livestream was provided.

Biden, the second American Catholic to become president, has supported taxpayer-funded abortion during his first year in office and has issued statements in defense of legal abortion, sparking calls by some bishops and other Catholics to bar him from receiving the Eucharist.

On Sunday, Biden also said Pope Francis has brought him “great solace” since the death of his son Beau.

After being asked about his private conversation with the Pope during his closing news conference at the G20 Summit, the president referenced “this debate in the Catholic Church” but did not comment in detail on reception of Holy Communion; instead, he focused on time spent with Pope Francis in September 2015 during the papal visit to the United States.

“This is a man who is of great empathy,” Biden said of the Holy Father. “He is a man who understands that part of his Christianity is to reach out and forgive. And so I just find my relationship with him one that I personally take great solace in. He is a really, truly, genuine, decent man.”

Biden, who was vice president at the time of the papal visit, was asked by President Barack Obama to accompany Pope Francis to Philadelphia.

Before departing Philadelphia, Pope Francis requested to meet privately with Biden and his family. The president recalled, with emotion, that that meeting with his family included talking about his son, who had died of brain cancer only months earlier.

“He knew who his was,” Biden said, adding that “it had such a cathartic impact on his children and my wife and our family that it — it meant a great deal."

The president continued, speaking of the Pope, that “this is a man who is someone who is looking to establish peace and decency and honor, not just in the Catholic Church, but just generically. ... So much of it is personal, but ... he is everything I learned about Catholicism from the time I was a kid going from grade school through high school. And I have great respect for people who have other religious views, but he is — he’s just a fine, decent, honorable man ... and we keep in touch.”

Register staff contributed to the report.

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