Biden to lead US delegation to papal inauguration Mass

posted at 9:21 am on March 14, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

(VATICAN CITY) Last night, after unexpectedly working a 14-hour day at the Vatican media center, I trudged back to my hotel exhausted, ate a quick dinner, and went to bed.  For most of my trip back, I wondered what more there might be to report on the election of Jorge Mario Borgoglia as Pope Francis I.  There will be events and interviews — in fact, I have a couple of them already shot and waiting for editing — but the suspense had evaporated.

Or so I thought:

Vice President Biden, an observant Catholic, will lead the U.S. delegation to Rome for Pope Francis’s installation, a White House official confirmed. No dates have been announced, but the ceremony could take place as early as Tuesday on behalf of Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, who was selected Wednesday. …

Biden has served as one of President Obama’s informal religious advisers on matters concerning the Catholic Church, including the debate over contraception last year under the administration’s new health-care law. During the vice presidential debate against Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) last year, Biden said he did not believe in imposing his personal view on issues such as abortion on the rest of the country.

Joe Biden in Rome, handling American diplomacy in an installation Mass. Hey, what more suspense do you want?  This might be even more tense than watching for the white smoke.  For instance, he might try this line out on the Pope:

“My religion defines who I am,” Biden said. “Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s position. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians, and Muslims, and Jews.”

My original post on this exchange can be found here, but suffice it to say that this argument won’t pass muster here at the Catholic Church’s home office (although, to be fair, the new Pope probably has issues with Ryan’s approach on budgeting, too).  LifeNews also points out the error of Biden’s claims:

Biden’s own bishop has had to correct the pro-abortion politician on his misstating the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church.

In the interview with the Delaware News Journal, Biden continued to misrepresent the position of the Catholic Church on abortion in a way that has gotten him in trouble.

“But throughout the church’s history, we’ve argued between whether or not it is wrong in every circumstance and the degree of wrong. Catholics have this notion, it’s almost a gradation,” Biden claimed.

Not so, says Rev. W. Francis Malooly, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington.

He wrote in a letter to the editor that Biden “presents a seriously erroneous picture of Catholic teaching on abortion.”

“This is simply incorrect,” he says of Biden’s interpretation. “The teaching of the Church is clear and not open to debate. Abortion is a grave sin because it is the wrongful taking of an innocent human life.”

On the other hand, Biden isn’t coming to Rome as America’s Greatest Catholic, either.  He’s coming to Rome as the second-highest-ranking public official, on hand to represent the US government; Barack Obama already had planned a trip to Israel for next week.  As such, Biden doesn’t need to pass Catholic muster to attend the Mass (although his participation in the Mass does depend on that). His delegation will no doubt include other high-ranking American officials who may or may not be Catholic, or even people of faith.  Their participation in this event is ex officio, not as a personal pilgrimage.

From what I know thus far, the event will take place on Tuesday, which means the Americans will arrive at the beginning of the week.  Hopefully I will have a chance to speak with one or more of them during their stay in Rome.


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workingclass artist on March 14, 2013 at 2:49 PM

You’re quite welcome and thanks to you for your reminder.

I put mine on for the first time in a decade, I think.

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 2:59 PM

kingsjester on March 14, 2013 at 2:36 PM

I’m not sure your point. To which question are you making that response?

GWB on March 14, 2013 at 3:11 PM

Slow Joe wows the Vatican:

“Frank, is this your lovely wife in the red dress? *KISS*

“Oh, my gosh I’m sorry. A cardinal, eh? Oops. He looks just like my Great Aunt Winnie. Well, except she’s been dead a few years…”

theCork on March 14, 2013 at 3:16 PM

I won’t be surprised if the Pope tells Joe to go to Hell.

MikeA on March 14, 2013 at 4:09 PM

I won’t be surprised if the Pope thell Joe to go to HeII

MikeA on March 14, 2013 at 4:13 PM

You want a looooooonnnnnnngggggg service? Try attending an Eastern Orthodox wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony, but even we (my parents and I) were taken aback at the length. :)

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 2:21 PM

I went to one as a kid on a hot July afternoon. It was so long my brother passed out. Twice.

Flange on March 14, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Flange on March 14, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Wow … I can see that.

If I recall, the groom at the wedding I and my parents attended was not Eastern Orthodox; his bride was. I don’t know that he got a good preparation as to what he was required to do during the ceremony, because he looked perplexed at several points, particularly as the crown was passed around him and his bride three times.

Still, it was very moving … but long.

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 5:17 PM

Patriot – my daughter married a Greek (in Greece) – had a Greek Orthodox wedding – which I had to stand next to my “ex” for the entire time. The parents stood next to the Bride and Groom. It was a very long service. What we do for our children.

msflea on March 14, 2013 at 5:29 PM

msflea on March 14, 2013 at 5:29 PM

Wow, yes indeed.

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 5:34 PM

msflea on March 14, 2013 at 5:29 PM

Actually, IIRC, the parents of the bride and groom (whom we were friends with) did the same thing. There was a lot of standing for us in attendance, but nowhere near what the bride and groom and their parents (and wedding party … etc.) had to endure. :)

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 5:39 PM

I’m Orthodox (converted from *gasp* Episcopalian 12 years ago), and by far the most difficult thing for me to come to terms with was the length of services. But now, when I visit other denominations, I think to myself “That was it? Gosh, this service was fast!!” It’s all perspective. God bless you for holding out and staying for the whole thing!

chelie on March 14, 2013 at 5:46 PM

Play it safe. Just keep him hooded like a falcon.

diogenes on March 14, 2013 at 5:49 PM

Biden is another reason I left the Catholic Church.

alanstern on March 14, 2013 at 7:53 PM

alanstern on March 14, 2013 at 7:53 PM

Actually, he should be the one who leaves, not you.

I wouldn’t permit petty, small-minded, willfully disobedient politicians such as Biden (or Pelosi, or Kerry et. al.) to run me out of the Catholic Church.

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 9:29 PM

chelie on March 14, 2013 at 5:46 PM

God bless you as well. I think it’s long past time that Masses return to the ceremonial beauty of past eras. They shouldn’t be “fellowship,” and as my hubby especially likes to say, they shouldn’t be entertainment.

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 9:33 PM

Does your denomination then accept that Romans will be in heaven on the basis of their doctrine, even though you don’t think it is correct? Or does the content of your belief not matter? What is the bare minimum for entrance in your opinion?

GWB on March 14, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Wow what a strawman about election. Are Catholics right or is your faith groundless. Pick one.

Sorry but where I come down on election is that I generally agree with the idea of “faith alone” but works can never hurt because at the very least it is the way Christians should lead their lives.

That being said, I have a hard time believing the idea that some good person, a creation of God, living in pre-Christian times is not among the elect simply because they did not swear their allegience to Catholic doctrine. How could they?

And BTW I cringe whenever somebody says of the recently departed that they are in a better place. Not only do we not know that, it doesn’t match what Scripture says. Treble my disdain if they talk about somebody looking down from Heaven for the same reason.

Happy Nomad on March 14, 2013 at 9:42 PM

God bless you as well. I think it’s long past time that Masses return to the ceremonial beauty of past eras. They shouldn’t be “fellowship,” and as my hubby especially likes to say, they shouldn’t be entertainment.

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 9:33 PM

You mean a return to the Latin mass? Not a bad idea in the sense that any adherent to the RCC gets the same rites no matter where in the world they are worshiping.

That being said, I’d be careful how you use the term entertainment. There is an element to ceremony that is entertainment in the sense that it is a visual expression meant to awe the masses. Part of the Protestant tradition (at least in my reformed faith) is to reject ceremony in worship for this very reason. We don’t even clap during services when the “cherub choir” has just rendered one of its spirited but off-key offerings.

One positive trend of the Reformed faith, IMO, is that we are re-establishing the liturgical calendar including such concepts as observing Lent.

Happy Nomad on March 14, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Happy Nomad on March 14, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Well, sort of. :) Actually, the liturgical changes that Pope Benedict effected does bring the Mass closer to its original intent and wording than previously. I don’t have time to give examples right now, but suffice it to say there were certain parishes and priests who took liberties with the Catholic liturgy when they shouldn’t have and were forbidden to in the first place. Benedict’s rectifying of that has solved the problem for now.

I have nothing against ceremony that is meant to awe the congregation, as you said, and that is solemn and respectful of Christ in the Eucharist, which is the reason for us being there. My own parish tends to be traditional like that, but I’ve attended other parishes where I thought I was at a camp jamboree or folk coffeehouse with incidental Catholic trappings added, and that’s what I meant by “entertainment.” Ditto for the priest who thinks he’s doing a stand-up routine instead of a spiritually uplifting homily. Fortunately, a lot of that kind of silliness and affectations that came out of the late 60s and 70s is falling by the wayside. Thank God!

Both my hubby and I are members of our parish’s adult choir and it has annoyed the both of us in the past if people in the pews clap for us at the end of Mass. We aren’t there to perform. I do think it was because of the pastor we had at the time, although we loved him dearly. But our current pastor is more low-key and serious and although he really appreciates our singing, he treats us as we are supposed to be, as a group who helps him celebrate the Eucharist, and not in competition with him.

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 10:58 PM

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

I have nothing against ceremony that is meant to awe the congregation, as you said, and that is solemn and respectful of Christ in the Eucharist, which is the reason for us being there. My own parish tends to be traditional like that, but I’ve attended other parishes where I thought I was at a camp jamboree or folk coffeehouse with incidental Catholic trappings added, and that’s what I meant by “entertainment.” Ditto for the priest who thinks he’s doing a stand-up routine instead of a spiritually uplifting homily. Fortunately, a lot of that kind of silliness and affectations that came out of the late 60s and 70s is falling by the wayside. Thank God!

You’ve hit on the key factor for me. Respectful worship. We have an associate pastor who is big into storytelling. At times it has been brilliant and you almost get the sense of how folks learned about scripture when they were illiterate. Other times it comes off as mere entertainment.

Both my hubby and I are members of our parish’s adult choir and it has annoyed the both of us in the past if people in the pews clap for us at the end of Mass. We aren’t there to perform.

My view exactly. My parent’s pastor calls clapping during worship praise offerings. I don’t agree. I know you Catholics don’t shop for churches but part of what drew me to this congregation was that they eschew “praise music” which is nothing more than three chords that can be played on guitar and combined with the same meaningless dreck repeated numerous times.

I’ll close with this thought. While I am not a Roman Catholic, I think the leaders of your faith should be commended. Benedict for stepping down when he did and the conclave for who they elected.

Happy Nomad on March 14, 2013 at 11:39 PM

Joe Biden an “observant Catholic”

Being a Catholic means one follows church doctrine. All of it. Not just the parts you like.

Joe Biden believe in so-called gay marriage and abortion, just to name a few departures from Catholic Doctrine. So he’s not by definition a practicing or, in an even further stretch, an “observant” Catholic. He’s what we call a “heretic”.

It’s insulting Biden’s being sent as a representative. He certainly doesn’t represent me or most other truly “observant” Catholics.

Marcus Traianus on March 15, 2013 at 8:31 AM

Joe Biden believe in so-called gay marriage and abortion, just to name a few departures from Catholic Doctrine.

Marcus Traianus on March 15, 2013 at 8:31 AM

When it comes to the teaching of the Catholic church, Biden has more departures than Dulles Airport. He would be a great Unitarian.

Happy Nomad on March 15, 2013 at 9:07 AM

What could go wrong with Greezy Joe Biden heading up the US delegation to the Pope?

Let us count the ways….
1) on a Lenten Friday, he’ll ask Pope Francis I if he wants to go out for a hamburger

2) he’ll ask Pope Francis I how his wife is

3) he’ll ask Pope Francis I if he likes choirboys

pile on folks, this is too easy. keep it going!

CatchAll on March 15, 2013 at 10:18 AM

It’s insulting Biden’s being sent as a representative. He certainly doesn’t represent me or most other truly “observant” Catholics.

Marcus Traianus on March 15, 2013 at 8:31 AM

Both Imprimitur and Nihil Obstat on this one.

unclesmrgol on March 15, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Glad to hear the vice president is attending. Take Pelosi Kerry and all the other fake Catholics with you. The pope won’t have to waste a lot of time excommuicating all of you.

scboy on March 15, 2013 at 1:01 PM

Thank you, too, for taking the time to respond. Saw your comment late last night and didn’t have a chance to respond until now.

My view exactly. My parent’s pastor calls clapping during worship praise offerings. I don’t agree. I know you Catholics don’t shop for churches but part of what drew me to this congregation was that they eschew “praise music” which is nothing more than three chords that can be played on guitar and combined with the same meaningless dreck repeated numerous times.

Happy Nomad on March 14, 2013 at 11:39 PM

Heh … we Catholics don’t shop for churches in the same sense that you may, but it’s fairly common to check out the available parishes, especially if someone is unhappy (for whatever reason, and they run the gamut) with their pastor. For example, I live within a five mile radius of at least nine Catholic churches, and if I got ambitious to drive, I could add five more. The reasons, as I said, run the gamut, but they usually boil down to a.) the pastor is too liberal, or b.) the pastor is too conservative. So, a conservative pastor might send a liberal Catholic to the exits in a hurry because ::: gasp! ::: he expects that parishioner to hew to Catholic doctrine and might not excuse him or her from the liberal attitudes they hold. The liberal Catholic might not stick around to learn that what the conservative pastor wants most is for that person to reflect and repent via the Sacrament of Reconciliation and turn back toward the Church’s teachings and to try and live their Faith faithfully as best they can.

The other reason a Catholic might parish-hop is the other point you made: music. This is a biggie for me also and that, too, runs the gamut. My example here is the parish I have belonged to for over 25 years; I was sold on it the minute I heard the choir at Christmas Midnight Mass and knew I had to become a member myself. On the other hand, there is the parish in which I was raised, which had an on-again, off-again youth choir (13 to 18 years), and no adult choir. Later, I also found that knowing who the music director was told me immediately what kind of music would be featured, whether it would be traditional Catholic hymns in four-part harmony or … ack! … the so-called modern and mostly insipid Christian Contemporary-with-a-Catholic-twist stuff, which happens to be a specialty now of my childhood parish.

A third thing which I’m sensitive to is church architecture. I despise almost all modern Catholic church architecture and if I were to move to another area and had the choice between a beautiful Gothic cathedral-style church and one that looked like a modified airplane hangar, I’d pick the Gothic cathedral every time. That’s an addition reason for me not to want to set foot in my childhood parish unless I absolutely had to: I can’t stand to look at it. There’s a reason why the Vatican has been so big on art and architecture throughout the ages: the beauty and grandeur of it is another way to help us become closer to God. Modified airplane hangars just don’t do it. :)

PatriotGal2257 on March 15, 2013 at 4:40 PM

Hypocrites.

If that church was worth half its slat there would be so many excommunicated US politicians, you would lose count.

IlikedAUH2O on March 15, 2013 at 4:56 PM

Hypocrites.

If that church was worth half its slat there would be so many excommunicated US politicians, you would lose count.

IlikedAUH2O on March 15, 2013 at 4:56 PM

They are all excommunicated. They excommunicated themselves. Whether or not the bishops make a public scene is a matter of prudential judgment, not hypocrisy. We know in Sebelius’s case, for example, that her bishop sent her a private letter (because she shared it with the press).

joe_doufu on March 15, 2013 at 9:33 PM

it has annoyed the both of us in the past if people in the pews clap for us at the end of Mass. We aren’t there to perform.

PatriotGal2257 on March 14, 2013 at 10:58 PM

Consider it a visible sign of the acceptance of your offering. If your offering was pleasing to those in the pews, then it certainly was pleasing to the Lord. The alternative is to have people leaving the Church complaining quietly that the sacred atmosphere of the Mass was disturbed by a persistently squeaky voice in the choir loft, and that they will be attending a different Mass next Sunday.

unclesmrgol on March 16, 2013 at 9:53 AM

It’s insulting Biden’s being sent as a representative. He certainly doesn’t represent me or most other truly “observant” Catholics.

Marcus Traianus on March 15, 2013 at 8:31 AM

I’m with you on this one. However, I’m hoping he gives many press conferences in Rome detailing at length his feelings about the “inadequacies” of Catholic views on abortion, contraception, and even social justice.

unclesmrgol on March 16, 2013 at 10:00 AM

unclesmrgol on March 16, 2013 at 9:53 AM

True enough. I guess I just get taken aback by the clapping and don’t expect to hear it. I suppose it’s a good token of appreciation, as you say.

PatriotGal2257 on March 16, 2013 at 1:47 PM

It’s insulting Biden’s being sent as a representative. He certainly doesn’t represent me or most other truly “observant” Catholics.

Marcus Traianus on March 15, 2013 at 8:31 AM

I’m with you on this one. However, I’m hoping he gives many press conferences in Rome detailing at length his feelings about the “inadequacies” of Catholic views on abortion, contraception, and even social justice.

unclesmrgol on March 16, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Yes, it probably would have been better had they sent someone such as Paul Ryan, who has publicly acknowledged his Catholicism and is not ashamed to admit it in a public forum.

But yeah, I’d like to see Biden yet again stick both of his feet in his mouth as he tries to explain what he thinks being a truly observant Catholic is so that even the jaded international journalists are surprised at his stupidity. I’d pay to see that. :)

PatriotGal2257 on March 16, 2013 at 1:53 PM

PatriotGal2257 on March 16, 2013 at 1:53 PM

Ed’s in Rome being our free press. Hopefully he’s there for Biden’s speech — which I’m sure will happen.

And, again, when they praise your music, they are also praising God.

unclesmrgol on March 17, 2013 at 2:27 AM

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, everyone! I’m wearing my green PJs — are you?

unclesmrgol on March 17, 2013 at 2:28 AM

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