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Pilgrim’s Way: analyze what the president said the pope said

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VATICAN CITY (CNS) – If Pope Francis has called President Joe Biden a “good Catholic,” as Biden told reporters, a ceramic tile the Pope gave Biden may illustrate what he wanted to say.

The 12-inch painted square tile depicts a pilgrim walking along the banks of the Tiber towards the Vatican. But it is not there yet.

Pope Francis welcomed Biden to the Vatican on October 29 and the two met privately, assisted by two interpreters, for 75 minutes, a record for a papal audience with a head of state.

For more than a year, Pope Francis’ favorite gift to visiting heads of government has been either a plaque depicting a migrant family with the inscription “Let’s fill our hands with other hands” or a sculpture from ‘a dove holding an olive branch. with the inscription “Be messengers of peace”.

But for Biden, the Pope chose the Pilgrim.

As Pope Francis made clear throughout his pontificate, defining someone as a good Catholic or a good Christian does not mean canonizing them or endorsing everything they say and do. On the contrary, good Christians recognize that they are sinners who need the forgiveness and grace of God, and they commit themselves to continue the way.

After meeting with the Pope, a reporter asked Biden if he and the Pope had discussed abortion. Biden said no, “we just talked about how happy he was that I was a good Catholic and that I should continue to receive Communion.”

When asked if the Pope really said this, the Vatican press office – as is normal in such cases – declined to comment, saying the meeting was private.

The official Vatican statement on topics the Pope and his Secretary of State discussed with Biden included climate change, religious freedom, migration, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the promotion of peace.

The statement made no mention of abortion, fellowship, or Biden’s mood.

The president’s meeting with the pope came just over two weeks before U.S. bishops were ready to discuss a document on the meaning of the Eucharist, which some bishops say should include specific language on what constitutes the dignity of receiving Communion and how politicians who support legalized abortion are not worthy to receive.

It would be impossible to think that Pope Francis did not know that the Biden administration supported the legalization of abortion and perhaps even that Biden had given up his long-standing support for the Hyde Amendment, which banned federal funding. for most abortions.

Throughout his political career, Biden recognized the tensions between the Democratic Party and the Catholic Church over abortion, which the Church views as the taking of innocent human life.

But the president must also have seen Pope Francis’ comments recently when asked specifically about the issue of giving communion to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

“Abortion is more than a problem,” he told reporters on September 15. “Abortion is murder.”

But the question of giving Communion is not theological; it’s pastoral, he said.

“Communion is not a price for the perfect”, but rather “a gift, the presence of Jesus in his church and in the community. It’s theology, ”he said.

“If we look at the history of the church, we see that every time the bishops have not dealt with a problem as pastors, they have taken sides on political life, on the political problem. By not dealing with a problem well, they have taken political sides.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, the new chairman of the pro-life committee of American bishops and consultant to the doctrinal committee of American bishops, which drafted the statement on the Eucharist, told Catholic News Service that he thought the document would be pastoral.

“I think it would be a nice thing if in November we were to come together and say, ‘We are pastors. We love our people. We want to make it a welcoming church and we want to bring people together around the Lord’s altar, ”he told CNS at the end of October.

While teaching the truth and defending the sacred dignity of all human life, “the Church is called to be the great sacrament of salvation and the great sacrament of unity. And if there ever was a time when we had to live up to this deeply theological description of what the church is, it is now in our polarized culture, ”Archbishop Lori said. “We must therefore be careful not to let ourselves go with no way out, partisan alleys where there is no life at the end, no evangelical life, no spiritual fruit.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden


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