A visibly moved President Biden took the opportunity to reflect on his “personal” relationship with Pope Francis Sunday, praising the Catholic leader as “someone who's provided a great solace for my family when my son died.”
“This is a man who has a great empathy — he is a man who understands that part of his Christianity is to reach out and to forgive,” Biden told reporters. “And so, I just find my relationship with him one that I personally take great solace in — he is a really, truly genuine decent man.”
Biden did not directly respond to a question from reporters on a split in the Catholic Church, where conservative bishops moved forward this summer with a plan that would deny the President communion over his support for abortion, instead recounting a visit the Pope made to the US, during which time he counseled Biden and his family, “When I lost a real part of my soul—when I lost my Beau, my son.”
“And he came in and he talked to my family for a considerable amount of time—10, 15 minutes about my son Beau,” Biden recalled. “And he didn't just generically talk about him, he knew about him — he knew what he did, he knew who he was, he knew where he went to school. He knew what — he knew what a man he was, and it had such a cathartic impact on his children and my wife and our family.”
After Biden’s meeting Friday with the pope, he told reporters Francis told him he was “a good Catholic," and that he should continue receiving communion, despite opposition from some conservative American bishops over his support for abortion.
When Biden was elected, he said, the Pope called him “to tell me how much he appreciated the fact that I would focus on the poor and focus on the needs of people who are in trouble,” adding the Jesuit “is everything I learned about Catholicism, from the time I was a kid going from grade school through high school."
The President also acknowledged he was reluctant to divulge too much about his relationship with the Pope, telling reporters, “I'm not gonna lie, this is just personal.”
“I don't want to talk more about it, because so much of it is personal,” he later added.