ROME, Metropolitan City of Rome — U.S. President Joe Biden met with Pope Francis for the third time since becoming president to discuss protection of the planet, refugees and the global response to COVID, but these meetings are not only professional in the ways of global politics — they're also personal.
NPR reports a question asked at a White House briefing about whether the meeting will be "personal or formal" had the answer of "both" from National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan.
The Friday meeting between Biden and the Pope was more of a "reunion between two men who over the past decade have developed a close personal and even political bond," NBC News explains.
Biden is the second Catholic president in office following after the late President John F. Kennedy (JFK) who was recognized as being devoted to his religion.
Catholic nuns schooled Biden when he was a child while his faith comforted him as an adult, The Atlantic says.
“Ever since he's been a kid in Scranton, he's lived his faith, and has always I think felt an obligation to lift up the vulnerable,” Sen. Bob Casey said to NBC News. “Now, with the significance of climate change, there's even more of a nexus between what he's trying to do as president [and] what the pope is trying to lead on as well.”
Biden reportedly won 52 percent of the Catholic vote during the 2021 election, while JFK received more than three-quarters of the Catholic vote when he won in 1960.
“A lot of Catholics came here as immigrants, and there was a closer bond at that time among Catholics,” Mark Kennedy Shriver, a nephew of President Kennedy, said to The Atlantic.
This meeting was the first stop in Biden's series of European summits that goes into the following week. The president also met with French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Italian President Sergio Mattarella.