Psaki acknowledges Biden and pope on different page on abortion, tangles with reporter
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki holding press briefing
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday that President Biden and Pope Francis will discuss a range of issues on which they agree during their upcoming visit, and that abortion won’t be one of them.
During her daily press briefing, Psaki got into a heated exchange with reporter Owen Jensen of EWTN, a Catholic news network, after he asked whether abortion would be a topic of discussion when Biden meets with the pope this Friday in Vatican City during his travel to Rome for the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
“The White House has said they will discuss working together on efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity,” Jensen said. “Will that include the human dignity of the unborn?”
“Well, Owen,” Psaki responded, “as you know, although you ask me most often if not every time about abortion, but I will say there was a great deal of agreement—”
“Is there a problem with my question?” Jensen interjected.
“Let me finish my answer,” Psaki fired back. “There’s not. You can ask anything you want. But what I wanted to note, since you follow this closely, is that there’s a great deal of agreement and overlap with the president and Pope Francis on a range of issues – poverty, combating 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.”
Psaki explained that Biden, who is Catholic and pro-choice, doesn’t have the same view on abortion as the pope, who has condemned abortion in all instances.
“This will be their fourth meeting,” Psaki said. “We expect a warm and constructive dialogue. You are familiar with where the president’s stands. He’s somebody who stands up for and believes that a woman’s right to choose is important. The pope has spoken differently.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Psaki attempted to move on to a different reporter but Jensen continued, “The pope has said abortion is murder and it’s like hiring a hitman. Does the president agree or disagree with that?”
“You know that the president believes in a woman’s right to choose,” Psaki replied. “You’re very familiar with this issue. We’ve spoken about it many times.”
The president has been scrutinized for his support of abortion policies as it relates to his faith. In June, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted overwhelmingly to draft a formal document on the meaning of the Eucharist after a contentious debate on whether Biden and other politicians supportive of abortion policies are worthy of receiving Communion.
Just days after the bishops vote, the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C., where the Bidens attend Mass when he is in the nation’s capital, said the church “will not deny the Eucharist to persons presenting themselves to receive it.”
After the G20 Leaders’ Summit on Oct. 30 and Oct. 31 in Rome, Biden will travel to Glasgow, United Kingdom, to participate in the World Leader Summit on Nov. 1 and Nov. 2, at the start of the 26th Conference of the Parties tot he UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.
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