Biden has private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, followed by talks with Italy's leaders

This is Biden's fourth meeting with the pope, as U.S. bishops debate whether to deny the president communion.
Pope Francis

President Biden on Friday had a private face-to-face meeting with Pope Francis in Vatican City, a highly anticipated exchange between the leader of the Catholic Church and the second Catholic U.S. president in history.

Introducing himself to the line of Papal Gentlemen, Biden employed a frequent refrain of his: "It's good to be back. I'm Jill's husband."

Biden was then led into the Apostolic Palace, where he met with Pope Francis in his private library for a closed-door meeting that lasted about an hour. Biden was then slated to hold a bilateral meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state.

Also in attendance at the private meeting were first lady Jill Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, in addition to the 10 Papal Gentlemen. 

On Thursday, the Vatican abruptly canceled the live broadcast of the meeting that was slated to take place. Instead, the Vatican will provide edited footage of the two leaders greeting one another. No explanation was provided for the last-minute cancelation. 

The conversation is expected to address a range of topics, including COVID-19, climate change, and care of the poor.

This is Biden's fourth meeting with the pope, which comes as Catholic bishops in the U.S. continue the conversation over whether Biden should be denied communion due to his stance on abortion. 

Following his Vatican meetings, Biden will have a bilateral talk with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, followed by a meeting with Italy's Prime Minister, Mario Draghi.

Later on Friday, he will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron — the first meeting between the two leaders since the diplomatic incident between the U.S. and France pertaining to an Australian submarine deal.

Over the weekend, Biden will participate in the G20 summit in Rome, where he will meet with U.K. leader Boris Johnson and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.