President Biden visited the Apostolic Nunciature to the United States in Washington, D.C., on Thursday evening to sign the book of condolences for the passing of Pope Benedict XVI.
Biden made the unannounced trip to pay respects after the conclusion of the late pontiff’s funeral in Rome the same day. The president was not invited due to Benedict’s request for ‘simplicity.’
An apostolic nunciature is similar to an embassy, but instead represents the Bishop of Rome’s interests abroad.
Biden met briefly with Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre, calling the opportunity to visit an honor.
The president spoke to reporters Wednesday outside the White House and was asked for his thoughts on the pope emeritus’s passing.
‘He was a great, and it reminded me of going back to theology class. We spoke about Aquinas and about ‘Summa Theologica’ and the whole litany,’ Biden said of Benedict, a pope who had served at the highest levels of academia. ‘I found him to be relaxing and very rational.’
The ‘Summa Theologica’ or ‘Summary of Theology’ is a massively popular theological text written by St. Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century.
‘He was a more conservative view within the Catholic realm than I have — I’m much closer to pope, the present pope, in terms of his philosophy, his view. But I admired him. I thought he was a fine man,’ Biden added.
On not attending the funeral, Biden said, ‘The reason I’m not attending the funeral tomorrow is because it takes an entourage of a thousand people to show up. Not literally, but we would move everything in the wrong direction.’