White House press secretary Jen Psaki this week declined to say if President Biden agrees with Pope Francis that "abortion is murder" but did say that the two men – who met Friday – see eye to eye on multiple issues.
Psaki made the comments on Wednesday during a press conference in response to a series of questions from Owen Jensen, a reporter for the Catholic network EWTN. Biden is Catholic.
"The Pope has said 'abortion is murder' and 'it's like hiring a hitman.' Does the president agree or disagree with that?" Jensen asked.
"You know that the president believes in a woman's right to choose," Psaki answered. "You're very familiar with this issue."
"That's not answering the question," Jensen responded.
"We've spoken about it many times," Psaki replied.
Biden and Pope Francis met for roughly 90 minutes Friday, according to the Associated Press and the White House, discussing such issues as poverty, persecution, climate change and the pandemic. Biden said they did not talk about abortion.
"The White House has said they will discuss working together on 'efforts grounded in respect for fundamental human dignity,'" Jensen said to Psaki Wednesday. "... Will that include the human dignity of the unborn?"
"There is 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," Psaki answered. "These are all hugely important, impactful issues that will be the centerpiece of what their discussion is when they meet. The president has met with him. This will be their fourth meeting.
"We expect a warm and constructive dialogue," Psaki added. "You are familiar with where the president stands. He's somebody who stands up for and believes that a woman's right to choose is important."
Biden, in September, said he disagreed with Catholic teaching on the beginning of life.
"I respect those who believe life begins at the moment of conception and all," Biden said then. "I respect that. [I] don't agree, but I respect that. I'm not going to impose that on people."
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.