Monday, 6 February, 2023

Biden praises Benedict's 'devotion to the Church'

US President Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, on Saturday mourned the passing of former pope Benedict XVI, praising his "devotion to the Church."

The late pope "will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith," Biden, only the second Catholic to serve as US president, said in a statement.

Biden recalled having spent time with then-Pope Benedict at the Vatican in 2011 and said he would "always remember his generosity and welcome."

He added: "May his focus on the ministry of charity continue to be an inspiration to us all."

Biden's relationship with the US Catholic Church has been complicated. Some conservative bishops favor denying him communion because of his support of abortion rights.

But in a long and friendly Vatican visit in 2021, Pope Francis -- seen as far more liberal than his predecessor -- told Biden he should continue receiving communion.

Before rising to the papacy, Benedict supported denying communion to Catholic politicians who consistently support abortion rights.