We’re 0-for-2 for Catholic Presidents Attending Papal Funerals

They say high school never ends. You can be long gone, and the invite list to your funeral will still stir up drama.

President Biden was not invited to Pope Benedict XVI’s funeral yesterday. Though unconfirmed, it can be easily deduced America’s second-ever baptized Catholic President was barred from attending.

The Vatican kept its explanation for his no-show vague: “simplicity.” Any photo from St. Peter’s Square this morning debunks the event was anything but “simple”—with estimates of 50,000 in attendance—and for good reason.


Maybe the Vatican was using “simple” rather than the more blunt word: “straightforward.” As in, we’re telling the abortion-promoting, religious-freedom-inhibiting, self-proclaimed “devout Catholic” to stay far away.

Biden himself was asked by a reporter why he would not be in attendance.

He responded, “Well, why do you think?”

When prodded again, the president replied, “You know why.”

“The reason I’m not attending the funeral tomorrow is it would take an entourage of a thousand people to show up.”

He followed up with, “We would just get in the way.”

See, that would be almost believable if he hadn’t flown across the pond for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral this past September.

It might have been able to sway me, but the Belgian, Spanish, and Italian leaders who did make the trek convinced me otherwise.

But one fact-check trumps all the alibis. In 2005, sitting President George W. Bush, with his wife Laura, father George H. W. Bush, and predecessor Bill Clinton attended the funeral of now-canonized John Paul II. It would have required quite the entourage. Devout Joe is making excuses.

The cat was let out of the bag when White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre slipped in a “per the wishes of the late pope” to explain Biden’s non-attendance.

Translation: Benedict decreed, No Biden. Epic move at the end of his life.

For the record, KJP pronounced “Emeritus” like it’s some sort of gastro-intestinal disorder. But public speaking is hard, so we won’t hold it against her.


Now, Biden is not the first president to skip a pope’s funeral. Our first baptized Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, declined to attend John XXIII’s in 1963.

Jimmy Carter was president during the passing of two pontiffs. The first, Paul VI, died in August 1978. Then, John Paul I, famously dubbed “the September pope,” expired one month later. Carter attended neither funeral and, in 2005, was “quite willing” to stay back for John Paul II’s. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice eagerly went in his place.

A dismissal from Carter shows a severe lack of diplomacy, sure. But when it comes to Catholic presidents and papal funerals, the Oval Office is, embarrassingly, 0-for-2. Benedict’s pontifical death wish to prohibit a president takes the cake. I think, on principle, I’ll add “No Bidens” to my will.

It’ll make for a good read, at the very least.

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