Fr. Frank Pavone is the National Director of Priests For Life and is a passionate defender of the unborn. He has fought this battle for decades and I value his opinion highly. Read more about Fr. Frank here.
Today, President Joe Biden visited with the Holy Father and I wanted to get Fr. Frank’s insight on this. Find my interview with Fr. Frank below.
Given Church teaching on abortion, why do you think Pope Francis is meeting with Joe Biden? Do you think it signals a change in the Church’s stance?
No, it is simply a courtesy of one head of state to another.
What do you make of the Vatican’s decision to limit press availability for this visit? Are they afraid there could be a question on the abortion issue?
It could be the same concern as the US Bishops have expressed in some of their documents on political responsibility, namely, that Church leaders should be engaged with public officials but not “used” by them. They mention photo ops in particular. Given the heightened attention to the Biden Communion issue, they may have wanted to better screen what video, audio or still photos got out.
The American bishops are considering denying Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians. Do you think that could really happen?
Well, the teaching is already clear that these politicians should not be receiving Communion. Given that teaching, each bishop has to evaluate circumstances in his own diocese. The bottom line is that each bishop can go as far as he wants, within the bounds of Church law, in calling out publicly the pro-abortion politicians, in warning them that they cannot receive Communion, or in imposing canonical penalties on them.
What do you say to non-Catholics who believe that Pope Francis is not pro-life?
I have met with Pope Francis five times, and he has encouraged my pro-life work. He has spoken more strongly against abortion than most bishops have, calling it murder and saying it’s like hiring a hitman. He believes that. But that doesn’t mean he will necessarily give the priority focus on the issue that, for example, St. John Paul II did.
What do you make of Joe Biden’s claim that Pope Francis told him to continue receiving Holy Communion? America Magazine accepts it as a true story. American Life League says that Joe Biden fabricated it.
I would say the statement, whether true or not, represents the primary objective of the visit, to give himself Catholic legitimacy. The only problem for Biden, and for the losers at America Magazine, is that even if the Pope said that, it means nothing. A meeting with the Pope doesn’t change Catholic teaching or dilute the irreconcilable differences in the positions of the Democrat Party and the Catholic Church on abortion (and a bunch of other things).
In addition, Biden is contradicting his own words. He recently said at a press conference, when asked about the bishops possibly denying him Communion, that it should be a private matter. Why, then, does he insist on talking about it publicly?
And finally, this claim makes it clear that it is Biden who is using Communion as a political weapon, and not the bishops who are trying to correct him. The bishops who say we should not “weaponize the Eucharist” should say that in response to Biden’s comment. Again, he should either keep quiet about it or not complain when we answer his public comments.
Many thanks to Fr. Frank Pavone. May God reward him for his tireless service.