Pope Francis will receive Joe Biden for first time since he is president from the United States, a meeting that will take place at the end of October, when the president is in Italy for the G20.
The news was confirmed by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, 75, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, to Catholic News Service (CNS), the US bishops’ agency.
Pierre said that when he met the pontiff at the Vatican on Sept. 6, he asked him not to retire. «He asked me to stay in my post, so I stay as long as I want. And I am happy to do so,» the archbishop said.
Image of when the Pope spoke in front of the US Congress, in 2015. Behind the pontiff is Joe Biden, then vice president. Photo: AP
At the top of the nuncio’s to-do list is helping the Holy See prepare for the Joe Biden’s first presidential visit to the Vatican, when the president is in Rome for a summit of the main rich countries, from October 30 to 31.
The archbishop indirectly confirmed Biden’s meeting with Jorge Bergoglio. «It would be an anomaly if he did not meet the Pope while he is in Rome,» even because Biden is the first Catholic president of the United States in 58 years.
The White House, for its part, has not yet confirmed the meeting. In late September, he reported that Biden would meet with French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Europe, but added that there was «nothing more to announce.»
Despite a «Tense situation over the Democratic Party’s abortion agenda», the archbishop considered that it will be a good meeting.
History of a link
Biden has never hidden his devout Catholic faith, nor his bond and in tune with the Pope. Descendant of an Irish family, he highlighted the Jesuit influence – the order to which the Pope belongs – in his spiritual and intellectual formation.
Biden has said his was helped him cope with the hardest moments of his life. First, the death of his wife and little daughter as a result of a car accident, in 1972, and then, in 2015, that of one of their children due to cancer.
His link with Francis began on March 19, 2013, when he attended the inauguration of the pontiff in Rome as vice president of Barak Obama.
The personal relationship between the two began to take shape in April 2016, when Biden attended a seminar on caring for people with cancer, a meeting in which both gave emotional speeches.
In September of that year, as part of his visit to the United States, the Pope met in Philadelphia with his entire family to comfort her over the death of her son. «It was a very comforting encounter,» Biden said after the meeting.