Biden Talks Christian Persecution With the Vatican

Just more than a month after the Obama administration formally labeled the Islamic State’s treatment of Christians in Iraq and Syria as genocide, Vice President Joe Biden discussed religious persecution of Christians with a top Vatican official.

Vice President delivers a speech before Pope Francis receives in audience the participants at the international conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture on the progress of regenerative medicine and its cultural impact, at Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican City, Vatican on April 29, 2016. (Photo by Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Vice President Joe Biden delivers a speech before Pope Francis receives in audience the participants at the international conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Culture on the progress of regenerative medicine and its cultural impact at Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican City Friday. (Riccardo De Luca/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

An official statement from the White House said:

The Vice President met today with Vatican State Secretary Pietro Parolin‎. The leaders discussed the persecution of Christians and other religious minorities across the Middle East, with a focus on the abuses perpetrated by ISIL in Iraq and Syria. The leaders also discussed the need for a negotiated solution in Syria.

Biden also had a private meeting with Pope Francis while at the Vatican, after delivering remarks at the Vatican’s International Conference on the Progress of Regenerative Medicine, where he pushed his “moonshot” initiative for fighting cancer. The White House has not yet provided information about his talk with the pope.

After intense pressure from Christians in the United States, Secretary of State John Kerry announced in March that the persecution of Christians by the Islamic State indeed amounted to genocide.

The determination came after the State Department commissioned a study by the Catholic group, Knights of Columbus, established a factual basis for the determination. The Obama administration was among the last to make the determination. The European Parliament, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights have all declared the Islamic State’s actions against religious minorities to be genocide.