President Biden said Friday that Pope Francis told him that he could continue to receive the Eucharist, despite a debate among Catholic bishops on whether the president’s support for abortion rights should preclude him from receiving the holy sacrament.
When asked if Pope Francis said he should receive the Eucharist, Mr. Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, responded, “Yes.”
“We just talked about the fact that he was happy that I was a good Catholic and ….. keep receiving communion,” he said.
Mr. Biden said he didn’t discuss abortion during his meeting Friday with Pope Francis at the Vatican, adding the pair focused on the “moral responsibility” to combat climate change.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is scheduled to issue a formal statement next month on the meaning of the Eucharist, one of the most sacred sacraments in the Catholic Church. It will include whether Catholic politicians who support abortion policies, such as Mr. Biden, should be denied the Eucharist.
After a contentious debate this summer, 168 bishops voted to draft a statement to address that question within a larger document on the importance of the Eucharist. The final document will not mention by name Mr. Biden or other Catholics who support abortion rights, such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.
The flap forced Pope Francis to walk a tightrope of his own. He has sought to avoid the politics behind the question while emphasizing the church’s view on abortion.
When asked in September if he supported the Eucharistic ban, the pope warned bishops not to let politics enter into questions about receiving Communion. But he also repeated that abortion was “homicide” and the Eucharist cannot be given to anyone who is not “in communion” with the church, though he declined to say if pro-abortion politicians were out of communion.
Cardinal Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, where Mr. Biden has attended Mass, made it clear that the president is welcome to receive communion when he attends services there, thus accentuating the schism within the church.