Today’s meeting will be the fourth between Biden and the Pope meet, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday, noting the two have also exchanged letters.
“They will have a chance just to reflect, each of them, on their view of what’s happening in the world, policy issues,” Sullivan said at a White House press briefing.
Biden and the Pope are expected to discuss climate change, migration and income inequality, among other issues, according to Sullivan.
The last time President Joe Biden visited the Vatican, he was still reeling from the loss of his son Beau to cancer a year earlier.
The reason for his 2016 visit was the Third International Regenerative Medicine Conference, and — in a speech delivered with a massive bronze sculpture of the Resurrection as his backdrop — Biden made an impassioned call for developing new cures for the disease that took his son’s life.
But he also recalled a moment of kindness from his host, Pope Francis, who visited the United States in the months following Beau’s death and gathered with Biden’s extended family as he departed the states from the Philadelphia International Airport.
“We had just lost my son,” Biden said at the start of his speech. “And he met with my extended family in the hangar behind where the aircraft was. And I wish every grieving parent, brother, sister, mother, father, would have the benefit of his words, his prayers, his presence. He provided us with more comfort that even he, I think, will understand.”
Biden returns to the Vatican on Friday to meet a Pope who has provided both familial comfort and ideological inspiration to a President whose faith has long underpinned his public and private lives.
The visit is expected to touch on their personal relationship as Catholics and other key world issues, national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday. And their issues-related discussion is expected to address climate, migration and income inequality — major areas of consensus among both men.
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