The U.S. ambassador to Italy will represent America at Pope Benedict XVI’s burial on Thursday because President Joe Biden was not invited, according to White House Press Sec. Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday.
It was unclear if no invitation was a deliberate snub to Biden, a devout Catholic, and staunch abortion proponent. Jean-Pierre countered that the circumstance reflected the late pope’s own preferences.
“According to the intentions of the late Pope and the Vatican, the United States will be represented at the Pope’s funeral by Joe Donnelly, the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. These are the things that they asked for. Their wishes were as stated.”
On December 31, 95-year-old Benedict of German descent passed away. Pope Francis succeeded him in 2013, and he resigned as pope but kept the title of pope emeritus.
According to Euro News, only the delegations from the countries of Italy and Germany received formal invitations. “If other heads of state or government attend, they will be doing so in a personal capacity,” said Vatican spokesperson Matteo Burni.
The funeral for Pope Benedict will be attended by King Philippe of Belgium, Queen Sofia of Spain, and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Andrzej Duda, the president of Poland, and Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, the president of Portugal, will also be present.
Jean-Pierre claimed that Benedict, whom he met more than ten years ago, was admired by Biden.
“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI passed away, and as the President expressed in his message, as you undoubtedly saw,” Jean-Pierre added, “he joins Catholics and so many people around the world in grieving his departure. He will never forget the Pope’s kindness and the insightful chat they had during his 2011 visit to the Vatican.”
When the U.S. Supreme Court declined to stay a Texas legislation that essentially forbade most abortions after six weeks in September 2021 and last year after the top court overturned Roe v. Wade, Biden’s support for abortion infuriated fellow Catholics.
Biden was refused communion at a Catholic church in South Carolina in October 2019. Because “any public figure who advocates for abortion positions himself or herself outside of Church teaching,” according to Father Robert Morey, priest of Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, he refused to give Biden communion.
“Holy Communion represents our unity with God, with one another, and with the Church.” The priest added, “It is my duty to minister to those souls given to my care, and I must do so even under the most trying circumstances. Our behaviors ought to reflect that. Mr. Biden will be in my prayers.”
But on Wednesday, Jean-Pierre claimed that Biden is a man of faith.
She told reporters, “Look, you know, the President, as you know, he takes his faith very seriously. This person has a strong commitment to his faith. You already know this, so I don’t even need to tell you that.”