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October 28, 2021

Statement on restricted coverage of President Biden and Pope Francis

The WHCA joins Vatican reporters in expressing our disappointment that the world won’t see live pictures of President Biden’s meeting with Pope Francis.

Reporters have been covering the papal audiences of American presidents since Woodrow Wilson sat with Benedict XV in January 1919. Most recently, members of our White House press corps helped bring the world pictures of Francis’s meetings with Presidents Obama and Trump.  

Our fully vaccinated and masked pool of reporters is ready to continue this public service, mindful of its own safety as well as the leaders’, to ensure independent coverage of the first Catholic president in 60 years meeting with the head of the Catholic church.

The White House told us the bilateral meeting would involve Biden and Francis discussing substantive matters of global significance “including ending the COVID-19 pandemic, tackling the climate crisis, and caring for the poor.” Such an international news event demands independent coverage.

-Steven Portnoy, WHCA President

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