CV NEWS FEED // Former President Bill Clinton and Alex Soros met with Pope Francis during an unannounced private audience on July 5th. Alex Soros is chairman of the Open Society Foundations and the son of billionaire leftist financier George Soros.
Clinton and Soros met with Francis in the papal residence at Casa Santa Marta. They were accompanied by a delegation that included Clinton’s son-in-law, Marc Mezvinsky, and Clinton’s former deputy secretary of state, Strobe Talbot.
Since serving as president, Clinton has dedicated his time to philanthropic work and public affairs. Soros recently became the chairman of Open Society, a major grantmaking foundation that funds leftist social and civil projects.
Under George Soros, Open Society made significant monetary contributions to legalize abortion in traditional Catholic countries such as Ireland, Poland, and Mexico. The group has also supported efforts in the United States to promote abortion and change the political opinions of American Catholics in contradiction to Catholic teaching.
George Soros was also one of Hillary Clinton’s top donors during her 2016 presidential campaign.
After assuming leadership of the foundation last month, Alex Soros told the Wall Street Journal that he is “more political than his father.” He will also oversee the foundation’s political action committee, which has a $125 million budget that is expected to be used to support Democratic candidates in upcoming elections.
Clinton previously made a 1994 visit to the Vatican, meeting with Pope St. John Paul II. Soon after the visit, the United States clashed with the Vatican about a UN proposal to guarantee abortion under international law.
During this week’s audience, Francis presented Clinton with a statue of a woman holding a dove, which represents “a work for peace.” Clinton gave the pope a porcelain tray with the presidential seal on it, along with a personal note. Some commentators believed that Clinton gave the pope an ashtray.
Before visiting the Vatican, the delegation visited Albania on July 3 and 4, where Clinton was honored by the Albanian government with a public gratitude medal for his leadership and NATO’s support of Albania during the Kosovo war.
Clinton’s office told the Catholic News Agency that at the end of the audience, Clinton thanked the pope for all that he had done for the Church and the world.
Francis’ audience with Clinton and Soros follows a long tradition of the Vatican welcoming controversial figures such as President Joe Biden, Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin, and Andres Serrano, the artist who created “Piss Christ,” a blasphemous 1987 photograph of a plastic crucifix submerged in urine.
CatholicVote Vice President Joshua Mercer noted that the Vatican has long held a policy of speaking to any significant leader. Pope St. John Paul II met with communist leader Fidel Castro, and both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis met with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, Mercer pointed out.
“The Vatican talks to everybody,” Mercer said. “I can hardly imagine a scenario where this pope or any other in the last several decades would not receive a high-level political figure, no matter how controversial. I think the idea is to never turn down an opportunity to present the Church’s goodwill and desire for peace.”