Biden meets privately with Pope Francis on the sidelines of G7

President Joe Biden met privately with Pope Francis on Friday on the sidelines of the G7 summit in southern Italy, in a personally meaningful sit-down for the president who has spoken frequently about the significance of his Catholic faith.

A senior administration official said Friday that the two men were likely to discuss the war in Ukraine, the situation in the Middle East and climate change.

The pope, who is making history this week by becoming the first pontiff to attend a G7 gathering, also sat down with the group of world leaders to discuss, among other things, finding an ethical framework to underpin the development and use of AI, CNN previously reported. Deepfake images of the pope wearing a white puffer jacket went viral last year.

The president is a lifelong practicing Catholic who met with the pope in 2021 in a visit to Italy. After that audience with the pope, Biden told reporters he discussed “a lot of personal things” with the pontiff and that the meeting was “wonderful.”

The 2021 meeting with the pope came amid an effort by some Catholic bishops to deny Biden communion over his stance on abortion. In 2019, Biden was denied communion at a South Carolina church because of his support for abortion rights.

But during that meeting, the pope assured Biden that he was a good Catholic and should continue receiving communion rites, Biden later told other leaders.

“We just talked about the fact he was happy I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving communion,” Biden said as he was greeting then-Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi in Rome.

At one point during that meeting, Biden presented the pope with a memento that carried deep personal significance: a coin that bore the insignia of the 261st Signal Brigade, the Delaware National Guard unit in which his late son Beau served as a captain.

“I know my son would want me to give it to you,” Biden said.

Per CNN’s count, Friday will mark the fifth time Biden has met with this pope. The pope also visited the United States in the months following the president’s son Beau’s death in 2015 – and held a private meeting with Biden and his extended family in Pennsylvania.

The pope, who is 87 years old and has experienced poor health in recent months, also met separately with a number of other leaders in southern Italy, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

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