U.S. President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and First Lady Jill Biden met with Pope Francis at Vatican City on Friday afternoon to discuss global challenges, including climate change, COVID-19 and caring for the poor.
“In his audience with Pope Francis today, President Biden thanked His Holiness for his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution. He lauded Pope Francis’ leadership in fighting the climate crisis, as well as his advocacy to ensure the pandemic ends for everyone through vaccine sharing and an equitable global economic recovery,” the White House said in a readout.
President Biden, who was wearing a dark blue suit, and Dr. Jill Biden, who was wearing a navy skirt suit with a mantilla, were greeted by Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza, head of papal Household, as well as by a half-dozen papal gentlemen after landing in Rome on Friday morning.
President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden were accompanied by Antony Blinken, Secretary of State; Jake Sullivan, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor; Mr. Patrick Connell, Charge d’Affairs a.i.; Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff; Michael Donilon, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President; AnnMarie Tomasini, Assistant to the President and Director of Oval Office Operations; Anthony Bernal, Assistant to the President and Advisor to the First Lady; Dr. Amanda Sloat, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Europe, NSC; Dr. Kevin O’Connor, Physician to the President; and Ms. Asel Roberts, Acting Chief of Protocol of the United States. His Holiness, Pope Francis, was accompanied by 10 Papal Gentlemen, read the manifest from the Vatican.
After his audience with His Holiness Pope Francis, President Biden met Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin.
The White House said President Biden thanked Cardinal Parolin for the Vatican’s active leadership in fighting the climate crisis— both through advocacy and encouraging the climate neutrality of hundreds of Christian organizations worldwide, and both leaders discussed efforts to rally global support for vaccinating the developing world against COVID-19.
“President Biden thanked the Vatican for speaking out on behalf of the wrongfully detained, including in Venezuela and Cuba. The leaders committed to continue using their voices to advocate for personal and religious freedoms world-wide,” according to a White House readout of their interaction.
The drive from the airport took the presidential motorcade through Rome’s city center, where onlookers lined the sidewalks watching, waving, and using their cellphones to record the motorcade. The vehicles passed many of the sights that the president drove past after arriving in the early morning hours of Friday.
The one on one meeting with the President and His Holiness Pope Francis ended at 1.30 p.m. local time while the expanded meeting began at 1:33 p.m.
President Biden was also expected to hold a bilateral meeting with His Excellency Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, at Quirinale Palace in Rome, Italy, and hold another bilateral meeting with His Excellency Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of the Italian Republic, at Chigi Palace in Rome, Italy.
The American leader will then hold a bilateral meeting with Emmanuel Macron, President of the French Republic, at the Embassy of France in Rome, Italy.
On Saturday, while in Italy, President Biden will attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit on October 30-31, before traveling to Glasgow from November 1-2 to participate in the World Leader Summit at the start of the 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26).