I suspect few of us can understand the price Joe Biden has paid to live out his deep Catholic faith in the unforgiving public eye.
This photo displays the church where Joe Biden worships when he is home in Wilmington, Delaware, St. Joseph on the Brandywine. It’s also where my husband spent his elementary school years and the site of not only the graves of my husband’s parents but also where President Biden’s father, mother, first wife, Neilia, infant daughter, Naomi, and his son, Beau are buried.
Neilia and one-year-old Naomi were killed in a car crash shortly after Mr. Biden, then 30, had been elected a US Senator. His two sons, Beau and Hunter, just two and three at the time, were also badly injured in that accident and spent months in a hospital recovering from head injuries. The oldest son, Beau (Joseph R. Biden, III), died of brain cancer in 2015.
This is a man who has known grief upon grief, personal tragedies most of us cannot even begin to fathom. And then there was the stutter. Take a few moments and watch this powerful, and painful, video that recounts his childhood bullying–including by that of a nun who taught him–because of the stutter. This also tells the story of the hard work he chose to do so he could enter the life of public service.
With the connection from my husband, who grew up in the same area as Mr. Biden, who attended a rival Catholic high school at the same time as Mr. Biden, and as one who voted for him, even as a non-Catholic, I hold a strong connection to President Biden and his faith life.
And so I ask, “How does being a life-long and faithful Roman Catholic affect his private and public lives?”
A Bundle of US Bishops Dislike President Joseph R Biden, Jr.
First, I must address that a significant number of Catholic Bishops would like to deny Mr. Biden the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Why? Because he has made it clear: he believes that the same bodily autonomy men are automatically rewarded with should not be stripped away from women. He affirms that women have the same right as men: the right to the privacy between doctor and patient for all medical decisions, unmediated by medically-ignorant politicians out fishing for votes.
In other words, he fully honors his faith by standing up for the sacredness of all human beings, not just those born biologically male. And like most in the US, he holds to a centrist understanding of the need for abortion services to be both safe and legal, even while respecting the limits of viability.
Note these numbers from a Pew Research report:
Overall, about three-quarters of U.S. Catholics (76%) say abortion should be illegal in some cases but legal in others. Just one-in-ten say abortion should be illegal in all cases, with no exceptions, while a similar share (13%) take the position that abortion should be legal in all cases, without exceptions.
Note that the Bishops only take aim at Mr. Biden for the denial of the sacrament, injecting their personal politics into their decision. And all this despite Pope Francis making it clear: Mr. Biden is fully welcome to receive.
In so many ways, he has followed in the footsteps of Jesus, defying the orders of religious leaders who want to stick to the letter of the law without nuance rather than letting compassion and mercy, the core nature of the Holy One, inform the rule.
Joe Biden Takes Jesus’ Teachings Seriously–And Takes The Hits For It
His faith also taught him to take to heart the core of Jesus’ teachings: the poor, the sick, and the oppressed of the world matter, and they matter greatly. Furthermore, as a person with significant intelligence and personal accomplishments, he also takes seriously Jesus’s words about those to whom much is given, much is also required.
He sees his life of public service as a holy and sacred calling, again reflecting his faith as one called to servanthood. And so, he has spent his life in the generally thankless job of public service, taking more hits in a day than most might experience in a thousand lifetimes.
I suspect few of us can understand the price this man has paid to live out his deep Catholic faith in the unforgiving public eye. And yet he has done so simply because he believes that faith has indeed called him and equipped him for this very service.
Headlines, Headlines, Headlines
Even so, the hits keep coming. Headlines, news “pundits,” rival politicians call him stupid, imbecilic, a man with greatly reduced mental capacity. People still make fun of the way he talks, as he continues to work on speaking without giving in to stuttering.
What does the news about him not say? Well, you’ll never read a headline like those below about Joe Biden, but click on the links, and you’ll see the person they do refer to: the leading contender for the GOP nomination to take back the office of the Presidency of the United States in 2024.
- “Joe Biden Convicted of Sexual Assault and Defamation.”
- “Joe Biden Accused of Encouraging an Insurrection Against the United States.”
- “Joe Biden praises Putin for Invading Ukraine.”
- “Joe Biden Believes Vladimir Putin Over the Information From His Own Intelligence Agencies.”
- “Joe Biden Reveals Highly Classified Information to Russian Foreign Minister.”
- “Joe Biden Hung Out With Jeffrey Epstein, Convicted Sex Offender.”
- “Joe Biden’s Family Firm Convicted of Tax Fraud.”
Why don’t we see these headlines about Joe Biden?
Because our current President is a profoundly decent human being, loyal citizen of The United States of America, shaped and formed by growing up and being educated in his Roman Catholic world.
Could he be accused of being a “Cafeteria Catholic,” i.e., picking and choosing which doctrines he will and will not hold to? Well, join the club with nearly ever other Roman Catholic (and, for that matter, any person who professes religious faith).
How about the absolute ban on any other method of birth control other than the highly fallible rhythm method, the only “legal” method allowed? Hmmm . . . the vast majority of US Catholics routinely disregard such a decree. But I don’t see the Bishops kicking them out–they need the money from them too badly so they can pay off their endless legal bills from the exposure of the protected pedophile priests. Yeah, we all pick and choose.
But Mr. Biden has chosen to follow Jesus, and it may take him all the way to the cross.