President Biden expected to meet Pope Francis at end of October, sources say

bidenandpopefrancis2016 Pope Francis greets then-U.S. Vice President Joe Biden at the Vatican, April 29, 2016. | Vatican Media

Pope Francis is expected to receive Joe Biden on Oct. 29, in the U.S. president’s first official visit to the Vatican since his inauguration, according to sources at the Apostolic Palace.

The sources told CNA on Sept. 25 that their information came directly from the Prefecture for the Pontifical Household. Though encounters with heads of state are diplomatic occasions, the Prefecture is responsible for the organization and protocol around the meetings.

Another independent source told CNA that preparations were underway at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and the first loads of trucks and equipment for the visit were already on their way to Rome.

The White House said on Sept. 22 that Biden would meet with the French President Emmanuel Macron in Europe at the end of October.

Asked if there were plans in the works for a papal meeting, a White House spokesperson told CNA on Sept. 28 that there was “nothing to announce.”

The Vatican does not usually give advance notice of visits by heads of state. Generally, information is provided just a few days before meetings take place. The Holy See tends to confirm the visit only after the head of state makes an official announcement.

According to the sources, Biden’s trip would be an official visit. First, the president would have a meeting with Pope Francis. Then there would be bilateral talks in the Secretariat of State with Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Secretary for Relations with States and the Vatican’s equivalent of a foreign minister.

Biden met Pope Francis for the first time in September 2015, when the pope attended the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. At the time, Biden was vice-president of the Obama administration.

Biden visited the Vatican on April 29, 2016, to participate in a regenerative medicine summit.

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