— -- Vice President Joe Biden brought his cancer "moonshot" effort to the Vatican today, urging nations to join together to combat the disease on a global scale.
Biden began his speech by reflecting on the death of his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in May of last year. He thanked Pope Francis for counseling his family during his visit to the U.S.
"I wish every grieving parent, brother, sister, mother, father would have the benefit of his words, his prayer, his presence," Biden said. "He provided us with more comfort than even he, I think, will ever understand."
Biden then focused on presenting an international commitment to the audience of doctors, researchers and world leaders based on his tour of various cancer research centers in the U.S. over the past several months.
He said a global coalition would be required to reach a cure for cancer, with concentration on a set of principles including a renewed focus on preventative measures, an urgency similar to infectious disease and an increase in the coordination of research.
"What is clear is that there are immense possibilities fully within our reach that did not exist even five years ago," Biden said. "Every day thousands of people are dying, millions of people are desperately looking for hope for another day, another month, another year. One more hug, one more kiss."
Pope Francis addressed the crowd following Biden, stressing that despite what many see as an economic inconvenience, seeking a cure for cancer is a moral issue for societies.
"It is fundamentally important that we promote greater empathy in society, and not remain indifferent to our neighbor's cry for help, including when he or she is suffering from a rare disease," the pope said. "We know that we cannot always find fast cures to complex illnesses, but we can be prompt in caring for these persons, who often feel abandoned and ignored. We should be sensitive towards all, regardless of religious belief, social standing or culture."
In addition to a short greet following Pope Francis' speech, Biden and the pope also met privately backstage, according to the vice president's office.