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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Critics tried to pressure Francis in the dispute over Biden and communion.

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In the run up to President Biden’s meeting with Pope Francis on Friday, leaders in the effort by some American bishops to deny the president the sacrament of communion over his support of abortion rights ramped up a pressure campaign urging the pontiff to take their side.

“Dear Pope Francis, You have boldly stated that abortion is ‘murder.’ Please challenge President Biden on this critical issue,” the arch-conservative Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, R.I., wrote on Twitter. “His persistent support of abortion is an embarrassment for the Church and a scandal to the world.”

But after his private meeting with the pope, Mr. Biden told reporters that the issue of abortion did not come up. It was not mentioned in the Vatican’s and the White House’s statements on the one-on-one audience.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leader among American prelates who are at odds with the pope, posted a letter on his website before the meeting, saying that American bishops would soon take up “the long-term and gravely scandalous situation of Catholic politicians who” both support abortion rights and present themselves for holy communion.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is considering whether to issue new guidance on denying the eucharist to such politicians. Francis has warned against such a move, arguing that bishops should stay out of politics and saying that he had never denied communion to any Catholic.

Cardinal Burke said that he had wanted to weigh in earlier, but that “recovery from recent health difficulties” had prevented it.

In August, he was hospitalized and put on a ventilator to treat an infection with Covid-19. A vaccine-skeptic, he had previously spread conspiracy theories that coronavirus vaccines could carry hidden microchips that made inoculated people prey to government control.

Pope Francis seemed to be referring to Cardinal Burke on a flight back to Rome from Slovakia in September when he told reporters on the papal plane that “even in the College of Cardinals, there are some negationists,” and noted that one of them — a “poor guy” — had been hospitalized with the virus.

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