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Biden to meet with Pope Francis in Rome before G20, climate summits

Then-Vice President Joe Biden walks with Pope Francis at the U.S. Capitol during a visit on September 24, 2015. File Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI
Then-Vice President Joe Biden walks with Pope Francis at the U.S. Capitol during a visit on September 24, 2015. File Photo by Michael Reynolds/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden, a member of the Catholic faith, will meet with Pope Francis this month to go over various issues like COVID-19, climate change and philanthropy, the White House said Thursday.

Biden, who is only the second Catholic U.S. president after John F. Kennedy, will visit the Vatican on Oct. 29 during a Europe trip when he will also attend high-level meetings in Italy and Britain.

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"They will discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity, including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis and caring for the poor," White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.

Conservative Catholic bishops have been pushing guidelines to keep politicians who support abortion from receiving communion. While Pope Francis and the church have condemned abortion, Biden is an abortion-rights advocate.

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The pope has not yet said publicly whether he endorses such a communion policy.

"If we look at the history of the church, we will see that every time the bishops have not managed a problem as pastors, they have taken a political stance on a political problem," Francis said on Sept. 15, according to The New York Times.

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"What must the pastor do? Be a pastor, don't go condemning. Be a pastor, because he is a pastor also for the excommunicated."

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The Vatican told U.S. bishops in June to end efforts to keep Biden from receiving communion.

The White House says Biden will attend the G20 Leaders' Summit on Oct. 30-31 in Rome, and for the first time confirmed that he'll also attend the 26th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, or COP26, on Nov. 1-2.

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