President Joe Biden claimed the US had been "clumsy" in managing a submarine contract with Australia at a meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron. Biden also met with Pope Francis, who described him as a "good Catholic."
With his domestic agenda in limbo, Biden embarked on a five-day diplomatic marathon on Friday, beginning with a series of engagements focused on personal and political goals.
Following a weeks-long rupture with America's oldest ally, Biden attempted to mend ties with France over a disputed submarine deal and strengthen ties with Italy, whose prime minister is emerging as Europe's political heir apparent to Angela Merkel.
And he got a thumbs up from Pope Francis, who, according to him, called him a "good Catholic" who should continue to take communion - an apparent rebuke to those bishops in the United States who tried to deny Biden the sacrament because of his pro-abortion stances.
Joe Biden meets Pope Francis for more than an hour
The next stop for Biden will be the Group of 20 summit when world leaders will face supply chain issues, rising energy prices, and global disparities worsened by the pandemic. Then he and many of the same leaders will fly to Scotland for COP26, a global climate meeting that might be a make-or-break moment in the fight to keep the globe from warming, NY Times reported.
The president began his day by meeting with Pope Francis for more than an hour at the Vatican. The only account of what Pope Francis said came from Biden, who told reporters that the pope had endorsed his receiving communion but that the two had not discussed abortion because the meeting was private and the Vatican refused to confirm details beyond a news release about the topics the two men discussed.
Both Biden and Pope Francis have been vocal about the need to address global warming - the Pope reiterated his demand for action in a BBC broadcast on Friday - and it was a major topic of discussion during their meeting.
Per NDTV, Joe Biden described the meeting, which he attended in part with his wife Jill, as "an honor." Climate change, the pandemic, the issue of refugees and migrants, as well as "the safeguarding of human rights, especially freedom of religion and conscience," were among the topics they discussed according to the Vatican.
Joe, Jill Biden give Pope Francis a special gift
There was no discussion of the contentious topic of abortion from either side. Biden supports women's freedom to choose, but Pope Francis, 84, has called abortion "murder."
Despite this, the Pope has distanced himself from a campaign by hardline US bishops to withhold communion to politicians who favor abortion rights, including Biden.
When dignitaries visit with the Pope, they are usually given a blessing and a little gift, but President Joe Biden surprised Pope Francis with a poignant gift during their meeting on Friday at the Vatican.
Joe and First Lady Jill Biden presented Pope Francis with a historic chasuble-a robe usually worn by clergy during communion-in a bespoke marble and wood frame, according to the White House. The handwoven robe was once worn by Jesuits and is now part of the archive collection of the Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is a member of the Jesuit order.
While in Washington, Biden attends Holy Trinity Church regularly. According to a White House official, the robe's frame was made by local artists using naturally fallen wood from the White House grounds and white marble retrieved from the ancient pulpit of Holy Trinity.
In honor of World Day of the Poor on November 14, the White House plans to make a contribution of winter apparel to organizations in the name of the Pope, according to an official. Biden and Pope Francis have had a lengthy friendship, with the two collaborating on cancer research when Biden was vice president, as per Newsweek.