President Joe Biden was not invited to attend the late Pope Benedict’s XVI funeral per his request.
Instead, the ambassador to Italy will represent the United States.
“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,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “This is what — this is what their requests were. This is what their wishes were.”
In addition to Italy, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Queen Sofia of Spain, and King Philippe of Belgium will also be in attendance.
“So, as the President said in his statement, as I’m sure you saw, he joins Catholics and so many others around the world in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI,” Jean-Pierre said, adding “he will always remember the Pope’s generosity and meaningful conversation they had when he visited the Vatican in 2011.”
When asked by a reporter to explain why he will not be attending Pope Benedict’s funeral, Biden responded by saying “you know why.”
“Well, why do you think? You tell me,” Biden then said, adding “the reason why I'm not attending the funeral tomorrow is that it takes an entourage of 1,000 people, not literally, but we would move everything in the wrong direction.”
Biden did admit that he inquired about attending the funeral, but only before finding out that he was not invited.
“We would just get in the way, but I’ve made my views known,” Biden continued. “Any rate, I think he was a fine man.”
Biden’s support for abortion has triggered many Conservative Catholics, including speculation that Pope Benedict also did not agree with the president’s views on the matter.
In 2019, Biden, who is the first Catholic president to openly support abortion, was refused communion at a Catholic Church in South Carolina, with Father Robert Morey, the pastor at Saint Anthony Catholic Church in Florence, saying that “any public figure who advocates for abortion places himself or herself outside of Church teaching.”
"Holy Communion signifies we are one with God, each other and the Church. Our actions should reflect that,” Morey said at the time, adding, “as a priest, it is my responsibility to minister to those souls entrusted to my care, and I must do so even in the most difficult situations. I will keep Mr. Biden in my prayers.”