United States Top envoy and Secretary of State; Antony Blinken meets with the supreme head of the Roman Catholic Church; Pope Francis at the Vatican today, June 28, 2021.
Blinken is the highest-ranking Biden administration official to have met the Pontiff since the inauguration in January. He was accompanied by tour guide; Alessandro Conforti and Charge d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See; Patrick Connell.
Pope Francis and Anthony Blinken held talks on a decision by American Catholic bishops that could lead to them denying Communion to President Joe Biden.
The visit follows a conference at which U.S. Roman Catholic bishops voted to draft a statement on Communion that may admonish Catholic politicians, including Biden, who support a woman’s right to abortion despite opposing the practice personally.
Recall that earlier this month, the U.S. Bishops decided to go ahead and craft a document laying out their line on the Communion-politician issue. Only a month earlier, Francis’ top official on doctrinal orthodoxy had urged the bishops to think the matter through thoroughly and aim to keep divisions to the minimum.
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The bishops, however, decided to move forward with the document, mostly disregarding a Vatican warning that it would be highly divisive.
Francis himself hasn’t weighed in publicly on the latest developments within the heavily polarized U.S. Conference of Bishops, although in 2015 he issued a letter expressing compassion to women over the agonizing choice they face over abortion.
Blinken was given a VIP tour of the Sistine Chapel after which he had a separate meeting with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Archbishop Paul Gallagher; the Vatican’s foreign minister. When that was over, he held private talks with Pope Francis in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.
There were no immediate comments on the details of the talks between both sides but a spokesman in the Vatican; Matteo Bruni, said the atmosphere was cordial and that the meeting lasted for 40minutes.
With this meeting, many hope that this will put relations between Washington and the Holy See on a new footing.
Blinken is on a week-long trip in Europe traveling to Germany, France, and Italy. He is expected to travel to Italy from the Vatican to attend the G-20 meeting of foreign ministers, which is focused on improving collaboration among nations on climate change, health issues, and development.