A video released by the Vatican showed some warm, relaxed moments between Francis and Biden as they shook hands several times and smiled. Francis is often dirty, especially in official photos, but he was in good spirits on Friday. The private meeting, according to the Vatican, lasted about 75 minutes, which is more than twice the usual duration of listening to the Pope
The couple sat opposite each other at a table in the papal library accompanied by a translator. They then proceeded to exchange gifts and a wider meeting with the First Lady and the highest officials. Due to the lengthy session, Biden was more than an hour behind.
“Biden thanked His Holiness for his commitment to the poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict and persecution,” the White House said in a statement. “He praised the leadership of Pope Francis in the fight against the climate crisis, as well as his commitment to ensuring the end of the pandemic for all by sharing the vaccine and a just recovery of the world economy.”
Biden is proud of his Catholic faith and uses it as a moral guide to shape many of his social and economic policies. She wears a rosary and attends Mass every week.
After leaving the Vatican, Biden said he had a “wonderful” time and that the Pope prayed for him and blessed his rosary. Asked what the prayer was about, Biden replied, “Peace.”
A dozen Swiss Guardsmen in their blue-and-gold striped uniforms and halberds with red feathers were standing intently in a courtyard in San Damasco when Biden and his wife Jill arrived. They were received by Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, who runs the papal household, and then greeted one by one the papal leaders or papal gentlemen who lined up in the courtyard.
“It’s nice to be back,” Biden said as he shook hands with one of them. “I am Jill’s husband,” he told another before being ushered into the frescoed Apostolic Palace and taken upstairs to the Pope’s private library.
According to the Vatican, Biden presented Francis with a woven cassock or liturgical vestment made in 1930 by the famous papal tailor Gammarelli and used by the Pope’s Jesuit order in the United States, where it was kept in the archives of Holy Trinity Church, Biden’s regular parish in Washington. The White House has announced that it will make a donation to charity on behalf of the Pope.
The Holy Trinity is steeped in American history and has played a role in advocating for abolition, desegregation, and civil rights since it was founded in 1787. President John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic President of the United States, also prayed there.
During a handshake, Biden dropped the so-called provocative coin into the Pope’s palm and hailed Francis as “the most important peace fighter I have ever met.”
The personalized coin depicts Biden’s home state of Delaware and a mention of the military unit of his late son Beau, the 261st Theater Tactical Signal Brigade. Biden told Francis that Beau would like to present the coin to the Pope.
“It’s a tradition and I’m just kidding about it, but the next time I see you, if you don’t have it, you have to buy a drink,” Biden said, referring to the coin. He added: “I’m the only Irishman you’ve ever met who has never drunk a drink.”
Francis laughed and replied, “The Irish brought whiskey.”
In the parable of aging, the 78-year-old Biden also presented the story of American baseball player Satchel Paige, a black metalhead who played in the late 1950s. “‘ How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are, ’” Biden quoted Paige as saying. “You’re 65, I’m 60,” Biden added as 84-year-old Francis pointed to his head. and laughed.
Francis presented Biden with a ceramic plaque depicting the iconography of the pilgrim, as well as a collection of the pope’s main teaching documents, the Vatican said. In a Vatican video, it was heard asking Jill Biden to “pray for me”.
The warm meeting was in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s 2017 meeting with Francis, with whom the former president had a solid relationship. Photos from this 30-minute meeting showed Francis with a stone face standing next to a smiling Trump. Biden’s meeting was also longer than the 52 minutes Barack Obama spent with Francis in 2014.
Biden will visit Rome and then Glasgow, Scotland, where successive summits will take place, first a meeting of the leaders of a group of 20 leaders and developing countries, and then a global climate conference.
Biden and Francis have already met three times, but Friday’s meeting was their first since Biden became president.
Biden also met separately on Friday to host the Group of 20 summit, Italian President Sergio Mattarello and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.
The day will conclude with a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron as part of efforts to improve relations with France after the US and the UK decided to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, taking over an existing French treaty.
Biden’s meeting with Pope Francis has sparked some controversy in advance, as the Vatican abruptly canceled plans to broadcast the meeting with Biden live on Thursday and banned media access. Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni said the revised television plan reflected the virus protocol for all heads of state, though he did not say why a more robust live TV broadcast was initially planned and then canceled.
Instead, the Vatican provided the accredited media with edited footage of the meeting.
The visit came as American bishops were preparing for a meeting in about three weeks in Baltimore at their annual fall meeting. Among the items on the agenda is the Conservatives ’effort to disqualify Biden from receiving communion. It is unlikely that any document resulting from the event would have exposed the President by name, but he could still face some form of reproach.
Francis stressed that he would not reject political leaders who support the right to abortion, even though Catholic politics allows individual bishops to decide whether to prevent people from receiving communion.