Given that America is still the most powerful nation on Earth, even if it’s running up against the limits of that power right now in the war in Eastern Europe, the fight against inflation, and the result of the war in Afghanistan, you might think that Biden would have RSVP’d “yes” to the invitation that came in the mail for the funeral for Pope Benedict XVI.
That’s particularly true given that Biden claims to be a “strong Catholic” and has visited with Pope Francis, the “woke Pope”, during his presidency. But it’s not what seems to have happened, as was shown yesterday when EWTN’s Owen Jensen pressed Biden on why he wasn’t attending the funeral.
“You’re not attending his funeral tomorrow though, why?” Owens asked Biden.
Biden, responding, said “Well, why do you think?”
Jensen, responding back, said “Well, you tell me.”
Biden then said “you know why” and Jensen again said “you tell me,” at which point Biden finally gave a real answer, saying:
“The reason I’m not attending the funeral tomorrow is it would take an entourage of a thousand people to show up. We would move everything in the wrong direction.”
The White House Press Secretary, Karine Jean Pierre, elaborated on that when speaking to reporters on Tuesday, saying:
“The U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Joe Donnelly, will represent the United States at the funeral of the pope, in line with the wishes of the late pope and the Vatican. This is what — this is what their requests were. This is what their wishes were. And so, that’s what you’re seeing from the U.S.”
Biden’s not being invited or not going to the passed Pope’s funeral is odd given his supposedly close, or at least friendly, relationship with Pope Francis. CNN reported on that relationship with glowing terms in October of 2021, when Biden visited the Vatican and met with Francis. In its words:
Even during the most formal of diplomatic occasions, Biden demonstrated an easy familiarity with a pope he has now met four times.
“God love ya,” he declared as they walked side-by-side through the papal offices, a familiar Biden-ism that was perhaps never more true.
The meeting stretched twice as long as the one Biden held with Pope John Paul II as a young senator. While the White House said afterward that topics like climate change and Covid-19 arose, Biden told reporters he discussed “a lot of personal things” with the pontiff.
The lengthy meeting, he said, was “wonderful.”
It was a signal of just how much weight Biden had placed in his first audience with Francis as president. Biden, alongside first lady Jill Biden, returned to the Vatican to meet a Pope who has provided both familial comfort and ideological inspiration to a President whose faith has long underpinned his public and private lives.
In extraordinary footage from inside, a talkative Biden engaged in a warm chat with Francis as they exchanged gifts and introduced each others’ delegations. At one point, Biden presented Francis a special coin with a deep personal significance: it bore the insignia of the 261st Signal Brigade, the Delaware National Guard unit in which his late son Beau served as a captain.
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