We were waiting to see if, and hoping that, Pope Francis would admonish U.S. President Joseph Biden over the latter’s staunch, extreme abortion policies, an expectation that was not shared by the secular press, which obviously knows more about Vatican workings, at least for state visits, than do we.
One congressman, Daniel Lipinski — a liberal — writing in the Washington Post, said, “When Francis and Biden meet, we can expect to see photos of the men smiling while they exchange gifts. The Holy See and the White House will likely put out statements saying the two discussed climate change, poverty, and other areas of shared concern. No one expects Francis to publicly chastise Biden for the policies he has advanced on abortion, gender ideology, and domestic religious liberty. We will never know about such a conversation if it occurs.
“That silence might be twisted to argue that the president and Pope are on the same team. But it would be far better to take it as a reminder that the Pope is first and foremost a pastor who tends quietly to the souls of his flock.”
An interesting if not universal take. What about Biden’s claim that the Pope okayed Communion for him?
True: we’ll never know all that was said. If nothing else, Joseph Biden passed up an opportunity, by all odds, of having the Pope hear his Confession.
Wouldn’t that have been news?
Back to the Popes and leaders (and politics).
When Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had met with pro-abortion American leaders — particularly William Clinton and Barack Obama (the latter even having spearheaded legalization of late-term abortion in Illinois when he was a state representative) — those Pontiffs also avoided any direct public castigation, and photos show what seems like smiling cordiality despite reprehensible politics when it comes to the unborn.
Obama told Benedict he wanted to reduce abortions (for your discernment).
And wait another minute, here was a news item from BBC:
“Pope Francis has met President Barack Obama in Rome for the first time, with the contentious issues of abortion and contraception on the agenda. The Vatican said the talks touched on ‘the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection.’ The Church backs doctors who refuse to perform abortions and is concerned at contraception in US healthcare laws.”
How true the smiles?
John Paul II seems content in this snapshot, but not so much in other photos.
On first meeting Clinton in Denver, said one report back then, “The Pope, spiritual leader of the world’s Roman Catholics, in a clear reference to Clinton’s support of abortion rights, challenged the United States to respect “those who cannot defend themselves.” So there has been that.
In one unforgettable (but currently inaccessible) photo in USA Today, Pope John Paul cast a very stern eye on the then-First Lady (Hillary Clinton). Just an eye frozen by his illness?
Popes have met one other Catholic president.
This is authentically deep warmth (although some might argue that crossed arms indicate less):
Here we see that they may be in at least a Christian sense, on the same page:
One thing that is consistent: the awe and respect all leaders, whatever their stature, have for the Holy Father, whatever their politics.
They are touched by the power and majesty of the papal office and Vatican.
They come to see him.
Popes have to meet a lot of leaders, including ones, if not proponents of abortion, who have started wars that have led to many deaths or are accused of assassinating rivals and critics.
“The challenging reality for Democrats who would seek to claim Pope Francis for their ‘side’ is that there is direct conflict between many of the party’s policies and the teachings of the Catholic Church, especially those regarding the preeminent issues of life and human dignity,” said that congressman. “Less than two weeks after both Biden and Pelosi (D-Calif.) blasted the Texas law that effectively banned most surgical abortions, the Pope said that “those who carry out abortions kill,” and once compared abortion to hiring ”a hitman to resolve a problem.” The Pope has also said that “gender theory” is “dangerous” and has rejected same-sex marriage, explaining “marriage is a sacrament [and] the Church doesn’t have the power to change the sacraments.” In addition, the Pope has been critical of the manner in which the Biden administration withdrew U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
“These statements highlight the error of trying to squeeze the papacy and the teachings of the Catholic Church into the rigid, shortsighted political framework that dominates American public life today. Many have latched on to Francis’s encyclicals, public audiences, and conversations with the news media — in which he has addressed a multitude of societal ills and expressed hopes for building a just society — as evidence of his investment in our contemporary partisan battle. But this is nothing new for a Pope. Especially since 1891, when Pope Leo XIII’s seminal encyclical Rerum Novarum set forth Catholic teachings on the rights and duties of capital and labor, Popes have been outspoken on a wide variety of issues affecting God’s creation. What Francis is doing is carrying on a tradition that long predates our country’s split into red and blue.”