Pope Meets U.S. Vice President Biden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Benedict XVI met with U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden in an unannounced visit June 3.
Biden, the first Catholic vice president in U.S. history, met with the pope in what was termed “a personal and private visit,” according to a U.S. official.
In an unusual move, the Vatican did not announce or comment on the papal audience, which, sources explained, was because it was not an official visit.
However, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, ran a headline and one-sentence summary reporting the pope’s audience with Biden, Biden’s wife, Jill, and entourage.
The vice president and leaders from about 80 other countries were in Rome to take part in Italy’s June 2 celebration of its 150th anniversary as a unified nation.
Biden, who supports keeping abortion legal, has said he accepts church teaching that life begins at conception, but that he does not want to impose his beliefs in the public policy arena.
Pope Benedict, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, outlined in a 2004 memo to U.S. bishops principles under which bishops or other ministers may deny Communion to Catholic politicians who consistently promote legal abortion. As part of a process of pastoral guidance and correction, a minister could extend a warning against taking Communion, and in the case of “obstinate persistence” by the politician, the minister “must refuse to distribute” Communion, the memo said.