Biden receives communion at Mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Rome after saying Pope Francis told him he could continue to take the holy sacrament

  • Joe Biden and wife Jill attended Catholic mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Rome on Saturday night 
  • Biden took communion during the service 
  • The Bidens sat in the last row that had been roped off as ‘reserved’ 
  • The English-speaking church is the main place of worship for the American Catholic community in Rome
  • It is located near the American Embassy
  • Biden revealed on Friday that Pope Francis called him a ‘good Catholic’ and said he could continue to take communion
  • Some conservatives in American church are weighing action againt Biden, who takes communion but supports abortion rights 

Joe Biden took communion when he attended mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Rome on Saturday night, the day after the president said Pope Francis told him he could continue to take the Holy sacrament.

First lady Jill Biden accompanied him to the religious service.  

The English-speaking church is the main place of worship for the American Catholic community in Rome and is located near the U.S. Embassy.  Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended mass there earlier this month when she was in Rome for a meeting of legislative leaders of G20 nations.  

Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, stopped at the church after his first day of meetings at the G20 summit. He and the first lady are scheduled to attend a formal gala for the leaders of the world’s biggest economies later Friday evening.

While Biden regularly receives Communion in his home dioceses in Washington and Delaware, it was significant that he also received Communion in Rome. The pope technically is the bishop of Rome, and while he delegates that to his vicar, St. Patrick’s parish is technically in the pope’s archdiocese. As such, Biden received Communion in the pope’s archdiocese.

About 30 people were at the Mass, and security guards ringed the aisles. The Bidens sat in the last row that had been roped off as ‘reserved.’

Mass was celebrated by the Rev. Joe Ciccone and two concelebrating priests. Biden waved to two women in the rows in front of him as he arrived with Jill by his side. No special announcement was made at the start of Mass.

The president put U.S. currency in the collection basket.

Before the collection was taken, a layman said from the altar that the parish welcomed all, including visitors, and noted that the parish receives no funding from the archdiocese of Rome or the Vatican. 

The president, a devout Catholic, regularly attends Mass in Washington or near his home in Wilmington, Delaware.  He carries rosary beads that belonged to his deceased son Beau and he keeps a photo of himself and the Pope behind his desk in the Oval Office in the first row of pictures next to ones with his family.

President Biden and Pope Francis with their translators at their private meeting at the Vatican on Friday

The Bidens attended mass at St. Patrick’s, the English-speaking church that is the main place of worship for the American Catholic community in Rome

The Church of Saint Patrick at the Villa Ludovisi was one of the national churches in Rome of Ireland until 2017 when it became the national church of the United States of America. It is also known as St. Patrick’s Catholic American Parish in Rome

President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Bide and Pope Francis during their private meeting at the Holy See – the Vatican released pictures of the meeting after it ended

President Biden, first lady Jill Biden, and Pope Francis with the American and papal delegations

During their meeting, Biden gave Pope Francis a handwoven chasuble from 1930 from Holy Trinity Church in DC, where he often goes to Mass. An accompanying note says as gift to pope, the White House also will donate winter clothing to charities as part of World Day for the Poor

President Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, keeps a photo of himself and Pope Francis on his desk in the Oval Office, it can be seen above to the left of the president

Biden revealed on Friday that Pope Francis told him he’s a ‘good Catholic’ and that the two men did not discuss the controverial issue of abortion during their 75-minute sit down behind the closed doors of the Vatican.

He also said the pope told him to keep receiving communion. 

‘We just talked about the fact he was happy that I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving communion,’ Biden said after the meeting.

Biden met with the pontiff amid pressure from conservative Catholics in the United States about his abortion stance.  

The U.S. Conference of Bishops is weighing whether to admonish Catholic politicians like Biden and Pelosi, who support a woman’s right to an abortion – which Catholics consider a sin – yet also take Holy Communion at mass. 

Biden said he did not take communion Friday. Asked whether he and Pope Francis discussed the U.S. Conference of Bishops, the president replied that’s a ‘private conversation.’ 

He also said that he and the pontiff exchanged prayers for one another. The president said he prayed for ‘peace.’ 

And he revealed Pope Francis blessed his son Beau’s rosary beads that he wears around his wrist. Beau Biden died in 2015 from brain cancer.

He said they talked about climate change, including the ‘need’ and ‘moral responsibility’ to deal with it during their meeting. 

Biden’s time with the pope on Friday was longer than either of his two predecessors’ with the pontiff.

Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, was scheduled to be with the Pontiff for only an hour but received extra time. In 2017, Francis met then President Donald Trump for 30 minutes and, in 2014, Francis met with then President Barack Obama for 52 minutes. Biden’s meeting with Pope John Paul, in 1980, in contrast, was only 45 minutes. 

The meeting was ‘wonderful,’ Biden told reporters afterwards.  

During their meeting, Biden presented Francis a woven chasuble, or liturgical vestment, made in 1930 by the famed papal tailor Gamarelli and used by the pope’s Jesuit order in the U.S., where it was held in the archives of Holy Trinity Church, Biden’s regular parish in Washington. President John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic U.S. president, also worshipped at Holy Trinity.

‘I hope you find this gift from the United States appropriate,’ Biden said. 

Biden also presented the pope with a presidential challenge coin.

‘I’m not sure this is appropriate, but there’s a tradition in America. That the president has what is called a command coin,’ the president explained.

Biden said it was meant for ‘warriors and leaders.’

‘And you are the most significant warrior for peace I’ve ever met,’ Biden told the pope.

The president said that while the U.S. seal adorned the front of it, the back was unique.

‘But I know my son would want me to give this to you because on the back of it I have the state of Delaware and the 261st, the unit my son served with,’ he said, referencing the late Beau Biden and his service in Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard.

‘The tradition is, and I’m only kidding about this, the next time I see you you don’t have it, you have to buy the drinks,’ Biden continued. ‘I’m the only Irishman you’ve ever met who’s never had a drink,’ the president added.

The pope spoke back to Biden in Italian, though was heard making a joke about whiskey.  

Meanwhile, Pope Francis, 84, gave Biden, 78, a ceramic tile depicting the iconography of the pilgrim, as well as a collection of the pope´s main teaching documents, the Vatican said.    

It was the fourth time the two men have met.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Joe Biden ahead of their meeting on Iran

President Joe Biden (far left) poses with G20 leaders in Rome, Italy on Monday in advance of the two-day summit, which marks the first time in two years the leaders will have met in person 

Biden’s sitdown with Pope Francis came as his administration is fighting Texas’ abortion law, the most restrictive law in the nation, which bans abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected and that is normally after six weeks and before many women even know they are pregnant. 

In mid-November the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will convene in Baltimore to debate whether Catholic politicians who support abortion rights should be admonished for receiving Communion. 

Meanwhile, Biden’s administration touted a win on the first day of G20 on Saturday when his fellow world leaders endorsed his plan for a global minimum tax.

The leaders of the world’s top economies backed Biden’s plan during their plenary session, after they took a group photo and before Biden sat down with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss Iran.

‘The leaders all came out in support of a global minimum tax,’ a senior administration official said after the meeting. ‘The president emphasized the importance of this historic deal during his intervention. The president also mentioned that while we don’t see eye to eye on every issue, we can tackle shared interests.’

The new global minimum tax of 15 percent is aimed at reversing the decades-long decline in tax rates on corporations across the world. The administration, led by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, pushed for the tax for months. The plan was already endorsed by the finance ministers of each country but was formally endorsed by leaders on Saturday.

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