Biden To Meet With Pope Francis Amid U.S. Abortion Rights Fight

U.S. President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are set to kick off their upcoming European diplomatic trip with a visit to the Vatican and a meeting with Pope Francis, the White House said on Thursday.

Pope Francis waves, next to US Vice President Joe Biden, on a balcony after speaking at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on September 24, 2015. © AFP PHOTO/ ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/Getty Images Pope Francis waves, next to US Vice President Joe Biden, on a balcony after speaking at the US Capitol building in Washington, DC on September 24, 2015.

The news comes as Biden, who is Catholic and regularly attends church, has faced growing backlash from some Catholics over his support for abortion rights. He has called for Congress to pass legislation to protect reproductive rights as the conservative-tilted U.S. Supreme Court weighs new state laws meant to challenge the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that has protected abortion access for nearly five decades.

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The U.S. House advanced the legislation last month, but it hasn't been taken up in the Senate.

Some conservative Catholic leaders have even called for Biden to be denied communion over his support for abortion rights protections.

But the pope has rejected that push, even as he considers abortion "murder."

"Communion is not a prize for the perfect," he told reporters last month. "Communion is a gift, the presence of Jesus and his church."

During an anti-abortion rights conference in Rome in 2019, Pope Francis compared terminating a pregnancy to hiring a hitman.

"Is it licit to eliminate a human life to solve a problem?" he told the audience. "Is it licit to hire a hitman to solve a problem?"

The White House has described Biden's October 29 meeting with the pope, which is not the first time the two have met, as an effort to promote human rights and discuss the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and climate crisis.

"They will discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters in a statement Thursday.


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