Biden's town hall at Catholic university riles bishop, abortion opponents

US President Joe Biden will take questions on his economic plans from local residents during the town hall event. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Joe Biden's planned town hall meeting at a Catholic university in Cincinnati, Ohio, on Wednesday (July 21) has drawn criticism from the area's bishop and abortion opponents, but the university said the event will proceed as planned.

Mr Biden, the second Catholic to serve as US president, will take questions on his economic plans from local residents during the town hall event at Mount St Joseph University.

Local authorities say they are bracing for protests after the Cincinnati Right to Life group blasted the university for hosting the event and urged supporters to call the school and Archbishop Dennis Schnurr to complain.

The archdiocese issued a statement late Tuesday saying Archbishop Schnurr would not have approved the event if it were up to him, although it conceded that the university operates under sponsorship of the Sisters of Charity, and not under the direct oversight of the archdiocese.

Mr Biden is a devout Catholic and regular church-goer but he has drawn the ire of some US Roman Catholic bishops by supporting same-sex marriage and abortion rights. They view those positions as incompatible with Church doctrine.

Some bishops want to block politicians with views like Biden's from receiving Communion, although Mr Biden downplayed the controversy last month. Asked about the issue, he said, "That's a private matter and I don't think that's going to happen." The Cincinnati archdiocese is home to more than 440,000 Catholics.

Pat Crowley, a spokesman for the university, said the town hall event would proceed as planned.

The university, which has about 2,000 undergraduate students, is run by the Sisters of Charity, a relatively liberal order of nuns.

"The University has always been and will continue to be a diverse and inclusive place where people from different races, ethnicities, social backgrounds, beliefs, and religions can come together to discuss and share their unique perspectives," the university said in a statement.

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