Featured Image
Pope Benedict XVIFrippitaun / Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The White House has appeared to suggest that the late Pope Benedict XVI did not want President Joe Biden at his funeral.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre confirmed at Tuesday’s briefing that Biden will not be traveling to Rome for Benedict’s funeral on Thursday, January 5. Joe Donnelly, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, will be representing the country instead.

Notably, Jean-Pierre added that Donnelly’s attendance in Biden’s stead is “in line with the wishes of the late pope and the Vatican.”

“This is what their requests were. This is what their wishes were,” she said.

It is currently unclear if the Vatican or the late pontiff refused to extend an invitation to Biden because of the president’s highly publicized political stances at odds with Church teaching. The Vatican has not responded to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment.

Biden appointed Donnelly, a Democratic former U.S. senator from Indiana, as his ambassador to the Vatican in October 2021. Like the president, Donnelly is a professed Catholic who nevertheless is known to promote access to abortion, LGBT ideology, and same-sex “marriage.”

Further speculation over Biden’s non-attendance was fueled after a group of reporters met the president before he boarded a Marine One helicopter late Wednesday morning. When asked why he wasn’t attending Benedict’s funeral, Biden briefly sparred with the reporter and then claimed “we would just get in the way” because “it would take an entourage of 1,000 people to show up.”

A Biden administration spokeswoman told The Daily Signal that the president “asked” Donnelly to attend Benedict’s funeral, but she elaborated only with a brief reference to “what the Vatican has said publicly about official delegations.”

READ: Cdl. Zen allowed to leave Hong Kong for Pope Benedict’s funeral

The only official delegations attending Benedict’s funeral are from Germany and Italy, but the Catholic News Agency reports that many other world leaders will be attending in an unofficial capacity, including Polish President Andrzej Duda, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, Queen Sofia of Spain, King Philip and Queen Mathilde of Belgium, among others.

Benedict died on the morning of New Year’s Eve at age 95. Three days prior, on December 28, Benedict was reported to be “very ill” and received a visit from Pope Francis, who will be presiding over his predecessor’s funeral on Thursday morning.

In accord with the late pontiff’s wishes, the funeral will be a “solemn but simple” affair.

READ: ‘Providential support’: FSSP releases statement following death of Pope Benedict XVI

In a New Year’s Eve statement, President Biden said he and First Lady Jill “join Catholics around the world, and so many others, in mourning the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.”

“I had the privilege of spending time with Pope Benedict at the Vatican in 2011 and will always remember his generosity and welcome as well as our meaningful conversation,” he added. “He will be remembered as a renowned theologian, with a lifetime of devotion to the Church, guided by his principles and faith.”

READ: Pope Benedict XVI dies at the age of 95