The president of the United States, Joe Biden, met with him today Pope Francisco, with whom he spoke about the climate crisis and assistance to migration, in a visit to the Vatican that lasted for more than three hours, much longer than expected, and where closeness and cordiality reigned.
Pope Francis and Biden clasped hands in friendship as they spoke, according to images provided by the Vatican, and there were also times when the pontiff laughed at the words of the president, the second Catholic president in the history of the United States to be received by a pope, after John Kennedy.
This cordiality seems to turn the page on relations between the Vatican and the United States during the Donald Trump administration.
In addition, the Democratic president was visiting the Vatican amid criticism from the most conservative sectors of the American Catholic Church for his position in favor of abortion rights, which does not seem to have strained the meeting.
The private meeting between the two lasted 75 minutes, exceeding the 50 that Pope Francis dedicated to Barack Obama and the only 30 to Trump, while afterwards Bise spent almost another hour with the Secretary of State and head of Vatican diplomacy, Pietro Parolin.
Climate, pandemic and assistance to migrants
During the private meeting they spoke “of the common commitment to the protection and care of the planet, the health situation and the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic”, but the Pope also insisted to Biden on “the issue of refugees and assistance to migrants,” according to a press release from the Vatican.
Reference was also made to “the protection of human rights, including the right to freedom of religion and conscience, and” some issues relating to current international affairs were reviewed, in the context of the upcoming G20 summit in Rome “, and on achieving world peace “through political negotiation”
Biden thanks Pope Francis
According to a statement from the White House, President Biden thanked Pope Francis “his defense of the world’s poor and those who suffer from hunger, conflict and persecution” , as well as “praised the Pope’s leadership in the fight against the climate crisis, as well as his advocacy to ensure that the pandemic ends for all through the exchange of vaccines and a fair global economic recovery.”
While he thanked Parolin, “the active leadership of the Vatican in the fight against the climate crisis, both through promoting and encouraging the climate neutrality of hundreds of Christian organizations around the world.”
They also addressed efforts to gather global support to vaccinate against covid in developing countries and “thanked the Vatican for speaking on behalf of those unjustly detained, including in Venezuela and Cuba, as well as pledging to continue using their voices to defend the personal and religious freedoms around the world. “
Biden dedicates words to Pope Francis
The American delegation included the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken; White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and First Lady Jill Biden, who wore a dark blue suit with a mantilla.
During the audience, Biden told the Pope: “You are the greatest peace fighter I have ever known”, as heard in the video of the meeting. There was a moment of shock when Biden handed the pope a coin with the US seal on one side and the Delaware seal on the other, the state of which Beau Biden, the eldest son of the president who had died of cancer, had been governor. 49 years.
“My son would have wanted you to have this coin,” Biden said, jokingly adding, “Tradition says that if you don’t have it at our next meeting, you’ll have to pay for the drinks.”
During the traditional gift exchange, Pope Francis presented Biden with a ceramic depicting a pilgrim, his writings and his message for the Day of Peace.
For his part, the US president gave the pope a 1930 hand-embroidered chasuble from the Society of Jesus, which belongs to the collection of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Washington, where Biden goes to mass on Sundays.
Biden arrived in Rome to participate in the G20 leaders’ meeting and also met with the President of the Italian Republic, Sergio Mattarella, and has scheduled meetings with Prime Minister Mario Draghi and French President Emanuelle Macron.