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Bay Area Catholics React to Biden's Meeting with Pope Francis

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Bay Area Catholics reacted to the comments made by President Biden on Friday that he has the support of Pope Francis to receive communion, even though the president supports abortion rights.

Members of the faith on both sides of this issue say their religion is what informs them on abortion.

"He was happy I am a good Catholic and I should keep receiving communion," Mr. Biden said.

The debate over whether the president should receive communion only adds to the conflict between the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the same issue.

"Communion is what makes our faith our faith, it's very sacred to us," said Lauren Morrissey, a member of Catholics For Choice who was born and raised in the Bay Area. "Nancy Pelosi and President Biden, they have a lot to say and they have a lot of sway."

Other Catholics support the effort by the Archbishop and say while they view the president and the house speaker as part of their religious family, they believe these two political leaders are in need of some parenting on the issue of abortion.

"He has started a prayer campaign for her, where he has Catholics around the country praying for Nancy Pelosi, fasting for her," said Carmel Richard of the archbishop, a Catholic woman who is a member of Pro-Life San Francisco, which she says is non-partisan and non-sectarian. "What we believe as Catholics is that our church is a singe body. We believe we are united in what is known as full communion."

Outside Saint Patrick's Catholic Church in San Francisco, some Catholics did not want to speak on the issue but others expressed the struggle they face on abortion. Bo Manlagnit says he is an anti-abortion advocate but still does not want the president to lose his chance to receive communion.

"He should get communion especially at this time of the year," Manlagnit said.

Those who are pro-abortion rights say they feel like the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is acting in a political nature with its opposition of the president receiving communion. Morrissey says they do not speak for a majority of Catholics.

"We don't want to see a game played with what is most sacred to us," she said. "Pro-Choice Catholics, myself included, we are Pro-Choice because of our faith and not in spite of it."

But Richard says to go against the church's teachings on abortion is to put politics first and over their faith.

"If we eat and drink the body of the lord when we are in sin, then we are eating and drinking damnation into our soul," she said.

The relationship between president and pontiff has been closely watched since Biden was elected last year and will likely remain highly scrutinized by Catholics as he enters the second half of his presidency.

"You are the most significant warrior for peace I've ever met," Biden said to the Pope.

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