Did Pope Francis Tell President Biden to Continue Receiving Holy Communion?

Coming out of a lengthy interview with the pope on October 29, President Biden told reporters that the Pontiff had encouraged him to continue receiving Holy Communion: “‘We just talked about the fact that he was happy I was a good Catholic,’ adding that the pope told him to ‘keep receiving communion.’”1

Did the president tell the truth? Did Pope Francis indeed urge him to continue receiving Holy Communion?

Biden Probably Told the Truth

It seems likely that Pope Francis indeed made the statement. Less than a month ago, in confusing statements about the Holy Eucharist, he sent an indirect message to the U.S. bishops opposed to allowing pro-abortion politicians to receive Holy Communion: “[We’ve had] enough excommunications; please do not excommunicate anymore.”2

Furthermore, when questioned if Pope Francis had said what was attributed to him, Matteo Bruni, the director of the Vatican press office, declined to confirm or deny, claiming it had been “a private conversation.”3

Such silence is not a licit option. Given the challenge posed by President Biden’s clear statement and the widespread confusion on this fundamental point of Catholic doctrine, it behooved the Pontiff or his assistants to straighten the record, affirm what is right, and denounce what is wrong in this regard.

The tragedy is that the Holy See’s silence signals agreement. The old Latin legal maxim runs “Qui tacet consentire videtur.” “He who remains silent is understood to consent.”

Pope Francis’s Magisterium of Acts, Gestures, Attitudes, and Omissions

Moreover, in an era that demands clarity, the pope’s silence fits into a deliberate strategy of omission.

For example, the day before he received President Biden, Pope Francis received two young Italian Communists of the Communist Refoundation Party. The Italian daily La Repubblica reported that one of the two, Andrea Ferroni, stated that when they showed the pope a picture of Antonio Gramsci (founder of the Italian Communist Party), the sovereign pontiff exclaimed: “You are true communists! Congratulations, keep it up.”4

Did the pope say this? Who knows? For years, however, he has received atheists, communists, pro-abortion or pro-sodomy activists. Afterward, they claim he said this or that, and the Holy See does not confirm or deny the veracity of the statements attributed to him.

Even if Pope Francis did not say the words that President Biden attributed to him, the pictures of their meeting, as broadcast by The Associated Press, show the pope welcoming him heartily, laughing, and affectionately holding the president’s hand with both hands. The body language is entirely consistent with the attributed statement.5

President Biden Received Holy Communion

President Biden also demonstrated through acts and gestures that he had the sovereign pontiff’s full support on receiving Holy Communion.

The day after his audience with Pope Francis, and while still in Rome for the G-20 meetings, The Associated Press reported that the president received Holy Communion at a Mass in St. Patrick’s Church in Rome, a church popular with Americans.6

Here too, the presidential action elicited no statement of rebuke from the Holy See. Once again, the papal silence denotes agreement. The lack of disciplinary action implies that the pope does not want that pro-abortion politicians be denied Holy Communion.

Who Is This Good Catholic Receiving Holy Communion?

Looking back over President Biden’s long political career, one sees that his position on procured abortion evolved with time. From weak opposition, he moved to full-throated support.7

In 2020, he ran for president with a radically pro-abortion agenda. Once elected, he took a series of pro-abortion measures, culminating in a full rupture with the Catholic position,8 that life begins at conception: “I have been, continue to be, a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade. … [I] respect those who believe life begins in the moment of conception. I respect that. I don’t agree.”9

It is not only procured abortion, however. President Biden also promotes the homosexual revolution.10 In 2016, as U.S. Vice President, he officiated at a “wedding” between two male White House workers.11 On that occasion, he tweeted: “Proud to marry Brian and Joe at my house. Couldn’t be happier, two longtime White House staffers, two great guys.”12

This is the good Catholic whom Pope Francis is said to have encouraged to continue receiving Holy Communion.

An Unworthy Communion Leads to Eternal Damnation

Pope Francis’s words, actions, and omissions suggest that the sins of actively and publicly supporting the homosexual and abortion movements are unimportant. And that these sins do not prevent them from receiving Holy Communion.

Saint Paul teaches otherwise. The Apostle to the Gentiles is clear on the gravity of receiving Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin: “[A]nyone who eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily will be behaving unworthily towards the body and blood of the Lord. Everyone is to recollect himself before eating this bread and drinking this cup; because a person who eats and drinks without recognizing the body is eating and drinking his own condemnation” (1 Cor. 11:27–29, NJB).

Look to the Star, Call Upon Mary

Amid the storm assailing Holy Mother Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, let us not lose confidence. Let us follow Saint Bernard of Clairvaux and turn to Mary Most Holy. More than eight centuries ago, the Doctor Mellifluus pointed to Mary and exhorted us never to lose heart: “If squalls of temptations arise, or thou fall upon the rocks of tribulation, look to the star, call upon Mary.… Following her, thou strayest not; invoking her, thou despairest not; thinking of her, thou wanderest not; upheld by her, thou fallest not; …guided by her, thou growest not weary; favored by her, thou reachest the goal.”13

Yes, let us look to Mary, the star that guides us and keeps us firm and faithful to the perennial teachings of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Prelates Repeat the Catholic Position

On the eve of President Biden’s meeting with the pope, Raymond Cardinal Burke, former Prefect of the Holy See’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, published an open letter to the faithful, commenting on Holy Communion and its desecration. (See Raymond Cardinal Burke, “Catholic Politicians and Non-Admittance to Holy Communion,” CardinalBurke.com, Oct. 28, 2021, https://www.cardinalburke.com/presentations/catholic-politicians.)

He recalled canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which forbids giving Holy Communion to excommunicated persons or those notoriously in public sin: “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

This is no mere disciplinary prohibition, which a pope can modify. It is about the sanctity of this sacrament and Saint Paul’s warning in the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

When the public sin concerns procured abortion, the cardinal rightly comments that it is “a matter of life and death for the unborn and of eternal salvation for the Catholic politicians involved.” (Ibid.)

Cardinal Burke recalls how as the ordinary in La Crosse, Wis. and Saint Louis, Mo., he warned pro-abortion politicians not to receive Holy Communion in his diocese. He also mentions Cardinal Ratzinger’s memo to the U.S. bishops on the matter, and which then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, today defrocked and reduced to the lay state, refused to transmit.

In that memorandum, the then-Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith urged the bishops to remain faithful to Catholic doctrine by preventing abortionist politicians from receiving Communion.

After reminding that abortion and euthanasia are inherently evil, Cardinal Ratzinger specified: “Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.” (Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion. General Principles” quoted in Sandro Magister, “The Kerry Affair: What Ratzinger Wanted from the American Bishops,” trans. Matthew Sherry, Chiesa.Espressonline.it, July 3, 2004, https://chiesa.espresso.repubblica.it/articolo/7055bdc4.html?eng=y.)

“Where are the John the Baptists who will confront the Herods of our day?”

Several American bishops commented on Biden’s statements that Pope Francis encouraged him to continue to receive Holy Communion.

Among them, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I. tweeted, “I fear that the Church has lost its prophetic voice. Where are the John the Baptists who will confront the Herods of our day?” @ThomasJTobin1, Twitter, Oct. 29, 2021, https://twitter.com/ThomasJTobin1/status/1454125261159550984.

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Tex., was another. He tweeted: “I implore all to offer prayers of repentance, reparation & atonement for all the blasphemies against Jesus Christ especially the reception of His Body & Blood with no thought of confessing mortal sin. This desecration of His sacred Body & Blood is an abomination.” @BishopofTyler, Twitter, Oct. 29, 2021, https://twitter.com/Bishopoftyler/status/1454038663646650378.

Footnotes

  1. Matt Hadro, “Joe Biden says Pope Francis told him to ‘keep receiving Communion,’” Catholic News Agency, Oct. 29, 2021, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/249441/joe-biden-says-pope-francis-told-him-to-keep-receiving-communion. See Maegan Vazquez and Kevin Liptak “‘God love ya’: Warm relationship between the world’s most powerful Catholics on display as Biden and Pope Francis meet,” CNN, Oct. 29, 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/29/politics/pope-francis-joe-biden-meeting/index.html.
  2. “Conferenza Stampa del Santo Padre Durante il Volo di Ritorno da Bratislava,” (Sept. 15, 2021), https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/it/speeches/2021/september/documents/20210915-bratislava-volo-ritorno.html. (Our translation.). See Luiz Sérgio Solimeo, “Pope Francis Supports Sodomy and Holy Communion for Pro-Abortion Politicians,” TFP.org, Sept. 28, 2021, https://www.tfp.org/pope-francis-supports-sodomy-and-holy-communion-for-pro-abortion-politicians/.
  3. CNA staff, “Vatican Declines to Comment on Whether Pope Told Biden to Keep Receiving Communion in ‘Private Conversation,’” Catholic News Agency, Oct. 29, 2021, https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/249442/vatican-declines-to-comment-on-whether-pope-francis-told-joe-biden-to-keep-receiving-communion-in-private-conversation.
  4. “Siete proprio comunisti! Complimenti, andate avanti” Matteo Pucciarelli. “Rifondazione, i giovani comunisti ricevuti dal Papa: ‘Ci ha detto di andare avanti’” La Repubblica, Oct. 29, 2021, https://www.repubblica.it/politica/2021/10/29/news/i_giovani_comunisti_ricevuti_dal_papa_ci_ha_detto_di_andare_avanti_-324218742/.
  5. See Josh Boak, Zeke Miller, and Nicole Winfield, “Biden: Pope told me that I should ‘keep receiving Communion,’” AP News, Oct. 30, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/joe-biden-pope-francis-business-poverty-rome-b4675e7b3115c5f3ddd3a735f9ee1e25.
  6. See Nicole Winfield, “Biden receives Communion in Rome amid debate in US,” AP News, Oct. 30, 2021, https://apnews.com/article/pope-francis-joe-biden-g-20-summit-europe-rome-b88497127cc09a79d018cd262b1c41a1.
  7. See Albert Mohler, “A Profile of Moral Collapse: President Biden, Abortion, and the Culture of Death,” Family Research Council, Sept. 9, 2021, https://frcblog.com/2021/09/profile-moral-collapse-president-biden-abortion-and-culture-death/.
  8. See John Paul II, EVANGELIUM VITAE, https://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae.html#%241L.
  9. David Knowles, “Biden: Texas abortion law ‘creates a vigilante system,’” Yahoo!News, Sept. 3, 2021, https://news.yahoo.com/biden-texas-abortion-law-creates-a-vigilante-system-155533651.html.
  10. See Bill Barrow, “Biden declares LGBTQ rights his No. 1 legislative priority,” AP News, June 2, 2019, https://apnews.com/article/ohio-donald-trump-ap-top-news-laws-joe-biden-ab96c4d9b3a84ef9b10598781ff38e93.
  11. Ben Johnson, “Joe Biden performs his first marriage – between two men,” LifeSiteNews, Aug. 2, 2016, https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/joe-biden-performs-his-first-marriage-between-two-men/.
  12. VP Biden (Archived), Twitter, Aug. 1, 2016, accessed Nov. 5, 2021, https://twitter.com/VP44/status/760250205191012352.
  13. “The Prayer to Our Lady Mary by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux,” Vaticansite.com, Aug. 20, 2017, https://www.vaticansite.com/the-prayer-to-our-lady-mary-by-saint-bernard-clairvaux/.

Source: The American TFP

© Reproduction is authorized provided the source is acknowledged.

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