By Matt Hadro
Ahead of President Joe Biden’s Oct. 29 meeting with Pope Francis, a White House spokeswoman acknowledged on Wednesday that “the pope has spoken differently” than Biden on abortion.
Biden, a Catholic, “is somebody who stands up for and believes that a woman’s right to choose is important,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at an Oct. 27 briefing with reporters.
“The pope has spoken differently,” she added, in response to a question by EWTN News Nightly White House correspondent Owen Jensen.
Pope Francis will meet with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden on Friday at the Vatican.
Psaki on Wednesday said that areas of agreement between the two will feature as the “centerpiece” of Friday’s meeting, including the issues of “poverty, combatting the climate crisis, ending the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“These are all hugely important, impactful issues that will be the centerpiece of what their discussion is when they meet,” she added.
Pope Francis has previously called abortion “murder,” compared abortion to “hiring a hitman,” said that unborn victims of abortion bear the face of Jesus, and decried efforts to promote abortion as an “essential service” during the pandemic.
Biden and his administration have taken a number of steps to either fund abortion outright or loosen regulations against funding of pro-abortion groups.
He pushed for taxpayer-funded abortion in Medicare by excluding the Hyde amendment from his FY 2022 budget request to Congress. In a Jan. 28 executive order, Biden repealed the Mexico City Policy, allowing for U.S. funding of international pro-abortion groups. His administration has changed regulations to allow funding of abortion providers in the Title X family planning program.
When Texas’ pro-life “heartbeat” law went into effect on Sept. 1, Biden promised a “whole-of-government” response to maintain legal abortion in Texas. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit in federal court over the law, and the Department of Health and Human Services announced increased family planning funding of groups impacted by the Texas law.
In addition, Biden has issued statements supporting legal abortion in the United States and internationally.
Later in Wednesday’s briefing, Psaki expounded upon the president’s “faith” when asked about the meeting at the Vatican.
I think the president’s faith, as you well know, is quite personal to him. His faith has been a source of strength through various tragedies that he has lived through in his life,” she said, noting that “he attends church every weekend.”
“We certainly expect it to be a warm meeting,” she said.