President Joe Biden will not be attending the funeral of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who passed away on Saturday at the age of 95.
Joe Biden, who is the second Catholic ever to be President of the United States, was asked by the Vatican to not attend the Pope’s funeral.
Instead, Joe Donnelly, the ambassador of the Holy See, will be in attendance to represent the U.S. government per the Vatican’s request.
EWTN Washington Correspondent Owen Jensen asked the president on Wednesday why he wouldn’t be attending the Pope’s funeral, to which he responded “Well, why do you think?”
“Well, you tell me,” Jensen said.
Biden claimed that “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 president also said that he “admired” the late Pope Benedict XVI despite their philosophical differences but claimed that he identified himself as closer to Pope Francis in terms of views.
One particular issue that Biden and Benedict disagreed on was abortion.
Benedict addressed the conflict between Catholic teaching and Biden’s views on the issue of abortion in a 2021 interview with the Italian publication Corriere Della Sera.
“It’s true. He is a practicing Catholic and observant. And he is personally against abortion,” Benedict stated in the interview. “But as a president, he tends to present himself in continuity with the platform of the Democratic Party… And on gender politics, we have not yet fully understood what his position is.”
Pope Francis will preside over the ceremony at the Vatican and the late pope will be buried in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica.