President Joe Biden is not one of the guests invited to the funeral of Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday. Not only was the president not invited – the Vatican had requested that he not attend the funeral, according to press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
The U.S. ambassador to Italy will instead represent the country.
Joe Biden will not attend Pope Benedict XVI's funeral, per request of the Vatican. pic.twitter.com/Q7VcYEhnei
— Kevin McMahon (@Kevin__McMahon) January 3, 2023
When asked about the United States’ plan for the funeral, Jean-Pierre responded, “The U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Joe Donnelly, will represent the United States at the funeral of the Pope, in line with the wishes of the late Pope and the Vatican.”
“This is what their requests were. This is what their wishes were,” Jean-Pierre said as she revealed that Benedict made the request before he passed away.
Jean-Pierre’s reveal might have been a slip as Biden does not seem to be very open to having the public know about the embarrassing disinvite. When EWTN’s Owen Jensen asked him why he would not be attending the memorial, he tried to avoid a direct answer. “Well, why do you think?” he asked the reporter.
After some back and forth, Biden finally told Jensen that the reason he would not be attending the funeral was to avoid getting in the way. “The reason I’m not attending the funeral tomorrow is it would take an entourage of a thousand people to show up. Not literally, but we would move everything in the wrong direction,” he stated.
Not being allowed to see the pontiff as he is laid to rest is seen by many as a clear snub by the Vatican, especially as Joe claims to be a devout Catholic.
The late Pope Benedict XVI allegedly banned Joe Biden from attending his funeral.
But I thought Joe was such a great Catholic?
— Ryan Fournier (@RyanAFournier) January 4, 2023
The disinvite most likely has to do with Biden’s pro-abortion stance, as he has been criticized by Catholics for supporting abortions. Considering Benedict’s reputation for strictly defending conservative doctrines on issues such as abortion, the late pope might have considered Biden’s attendance at his memorial a stain on the “white” he dedicated his life to upholding.
Born in Germany as Joseph Ratzinger, Benedict died on Saturday at age 95. His funeral will be presided over by Pope Francis, who succeeded him after he stepped down as the pope in 2013 as a result of health issues.
Leaders expected to attend the funeral include German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Poland President Andrzej Duda, Queen Sofia of Spain, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, and King Philippe of Belgium.