EXCLUSIVE: ‘Pray for His Conversion’: Here’s What US Catholics Want Out Of Biden’s Meeting With Pope Francis

President Joe Biden’s Friday meeting with Pope Francis comes at an inflection point for the president’s relations with the Roman Catholic Church, and many American Catholics are praying the meeting will cause Biden to realign himself with the Church’s core tenants.

While Biden has called himself a devout Catholic, he publicly rejects the Church’s teachings on both abortion and gay marriage. Even as Pope Francis has aggressively upheld the Church’s long-standing teaching that abortion is murder, the Biden administration has been embroiled in a battle to pass a budget plan that would end the Hyde Amendment, which for decades has prevented U.S. taxpayer dollars from funding abortions. (RELATED: Vatican Cancels Plans To Livestream Biden’s Meeting With Pope Francis)

The Hyde Amendment is the perfect example of the utter phoniness of Biden’s position on abortion,” said Brian Burch, executive director CatholicVote, an organization devoted to upholding Catholic teachings in politics. “He says he believes abortion is wrong, but doesn’t want to force that personal belief on women. But now he wants to force Americans to pay for abortions regardless of their beliefs.”

Catholics of any political background carry deep respect for the Papacy. What we hope is for Biden to show the kind of respect due the Papacy given his Catholic faith, and humility given his gross defiance of the Church,” Burch told the Daily Caller.

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 5: President Joe Biden walks into Holy Trinity Catholic Church to attend Mass on June 5, 2021, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will meet for its fall conference in a matter of weeks, and on the agenda: drafting a statement on the meaning of communion. Many expect the statement to clarify whether priests should withhold communion from high-profile, pro-choice politicians who publicly reject the Church’s teachings on abortion. The statement, however, is likely only to remind faithful Catholics what it means to be faithful, says Lila Rose, a devout Catholic and president of the pro-life advocacy group Live Action. Ultimately, the decision to withhold communion from an individual rests with their priests.

The Catholic Church has been crystal clear about how one should receive Holy Communion. The law is, do not present yourself for communion while in a state of willful mortal sin,” Rose said, adding that there are case-by-case considerations that make a blanket policy difficult, such as whether a person may have gone to confession before seeking communion. “The teaching from the church has been set for centuries. It’s not going to change.”

Burch echoed that sentiment, saying no statement from the USCCB would mention Biden or any other politician by name. He added that faithful Catholics pray for Biden to change his position on these core teachings not only for the sake of policy but also for the sake of his own soul.

“It’s about also a deep desire to reform that person and to bring them back into full communion with the Church,” Burch said.

Pope Francis himself has not weighed in on the specific issue of withholding communion from pro-choice politicians, saying in September that he did not know enough “details” about U.S. politics.

“Scientifically it’s a human life,” the Holy Father said at the time. “The textbooks teach us that. But is it right to take it out to solve a problem? And this is why the Church is so strict on this issue because it is kind of like accepting this is accepting daily murder.”

“What should the pastor do?” the pope went on to ask. “Be a shepherd, do not go around condemning … but be a pastor. But is he also a pastor of the excommunicated? Yes, he is the pastor and … he must be a shepherd with God’s style. And God’s style is closeness, compassion, and tenderness.”

Neither the Vatican nor the White House has indicated what Biden and the pope might discuss, and the Holy See cancelled its plans to provide a live broadcast of the meeting on Thursday.

“My hope is that Biden will have a change of heart both by meeting the Holy Father and by the grace of God,” Rose said. “It’s important that Catholics pray for him and pray for his conversion.”

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