Pope Francis and President Joe Biden met today at the Vatican for about 75 minutes, the Holy See press office reported.
The private meeting lasted much longer than other conversations between the pope and the visiting heads of state and government and, after it, gifts were exchanged.
The US 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.
After this first meeting with Francis as President of the United States, Biden met with the Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin.
The length of the visit denotes the pontiff’s interest in this meeting with a US Catholic president. The pope’s meeting with then-President Donald Trump lasted about 30 minutes, while with Barack Obama it was about 50.
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 American 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.
The White House press secretary, Jen Psaki, had advanced in a statement that they would talk about how to “work together” to “end the covid-19 pandemic, address climate change and care for the poor. “
The Vatican does not usually inform in advance of the meetings and is expected to issue a statement.
Also on this occasion, the Vatican decided to cancel, without giving explanations, the live broadcast of the meeting, while it had done so with Trump and Obama, and limited itself only to giving the arrival.
Biden is the second Catholic American president after John Kennedy, who visited Paul VI in July 1963, just weeks after his election as pontiff.
The Democratic president visits the Vatican amid criticism from the most conservative sectors of the American Catholic Church for his position in favor of abortion rights.
This hearing also occurs two weeks before the fall assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore.
At that meeting, a controversial document on the Eucharist will be discussed that some members of the curia want to approve in order to excommunicate politicians who are in favor of legal abortion, including Biden and the president of the House of Representatives, also a Democrat. Nancy Pelosi.