Biden to lead delegation for new pope's installation
March 13th, 2013
04:52 PM ET
2 years ago

Biden to lead delegation for new pope's installation

(CNN) - Vice President Joe Biden, the first Roman Catholic to serve as vice president, will lead the U.S. delegation to next week's formal installation of Pope Francis, he said in a statement Wednesday.

"I am happy to have the chance to personally relay my well wishes, and those of the American people, when I travel to Rome for his Inaugural Mass," he wrote. "The Catholic Church plays an essential role in my life and the lives of more than a billion people in America and around the world, not just in matters of our faith, but in pursuit of peace and human dignity for all faiths."

Speaking on CNN, Vatican spokesman the Rev. Tom Rosica called the news Biden would attend the installation mass "significant," explaining the Vatican doesn't formally extend invitations to other governments.

"Many heads of state have been letting us know their desire to come," Rosica said. "The Holy See never invites people to come to this, but they inform governments we have a new leader and I think many people will be coming and I'm sure many people from Latin America, South America will be coming as well."

The choice of Biden to attend next week's installation means President Barack Obama will not have to alter his planned trip to the Middle East. Asked if it would have been more appropriate for Obama himself to attend Pope Francis' installation, Rosica said "it is not up to me to comment on anything like that."

"We're just grateful people are coming, and those who are coming know who they are coming to see," he added.

Earlier in the day, Obama said in a statement the selection of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina to become the next pope spoke to the "strength and vitality of a region that in increasingly shaping our world."

He also pointed to the large number of Hispanic-Americans in the United States, who are overwhelmingly Catholic.

"Just as I appreciated our work with Pope Benedict XVI, I look forward to working with His Holiness to advance peace, security and dignity for our fellow human beings, regardless of their faith," Obama wrote. "We join with people around the world in offering our prayers for the Holy Father as he begins the sacred work of leading the Catholic Church in our modern world."

Obama learned a new pope had been selected during a meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill. An aide passed him a note with the news that white smoke was seen pouring out of the Sistine Chapel chimney, and he relayed the information to lawmakers present.

One Republican jokingly asked whether it meant tours at the White House, which have been suspended as a result of spending cuts, had resumed. He replied tours of the Vatican were back on.

After the meeting, House Speaker John Boehner, who is also Catholic, said he was pleased at how quickly the cardinals selected a new pope.

"I'm happy that they were able to come to a choice as quickly as they did," Boehner said. "I think that reaching out beyond the traditional continent of our church is another big step in the right direction for the church."


Filed under: Joe Biden
soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. critical thinking

    Joe, no garden variety slaps in the face while you are there, ok?

    March 14, 2013 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  2. Rudy NYC

    I was impressed by how quickly and proficiently the folks at the Vatican were able to get Pope Francis measured and properly fitted into the papal robes. I got worried when he didn't start waving right away. My favorite, John Paul II, lived for the public moment and the public returned the thrill.

    March 14, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  3. Boytjie

    @Rudy NYC: They had 3 sets of papal outfits ready in different sizes. ;)

    March 14, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  4. Kevin in VA

    Another 20 million dollars that our government is flushing down the toilet. This is completely for show and I do not think it should be funded by tax payer money. This is not a head of state, he is the head of a church

    March 14, 2013 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  5. Bud

    BIden is still VP...wake me when this bad dream is over...

    March 14, 2013 09:57 am at 9:57 am |
  6. KEVIN2121961

    Super spooky that Biden is going to the Vatican at the same time Obama is going to Israel.

    March 14, 2013 10:00 am at 10:00 am |
  7. Al-NY,NY

    Kevin in VA

    Another 20 million dollars that our government is flushing down the toilet. This is completely for show and I do not think it should be funded by tax payer money. This is not a head of state, he is the head of a church
    -----

    unless I missed it, i see you have numbers for this trip that probably come straight from Faux Snews or hate radio. please supply us with your source.....

    March 14, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  8. petemg

    This separation of Obama and Biden at the same time, is this a sign of something to come. Just curious.

    March 14, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  9. Boytjie

    For Pope Benedict's inaugural mass, Pres. George W Bush sent a delegation of 5 which included his brother, Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida, and Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele of Maryland.
    I wonder who paid for that? I bet the same as who is paying for VP Joe Biden.
    Get over yourselves, GOPers

    March 14, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  10. Boytjie

    @Kevin in VA: $20 million? For what and where did you get that number?

    March 14, 2013 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    -Kevin in VA

    Another 20 million dollars that our government is flushing down the toilet. This is completely for show and I do not think it should be funded by tax payer money. This is not a head of state, he is the head of a church
    *************
    We have diplomatic relations with the Vatican, as well as an ambassador. Its not hard to look up, but we understand that conservatives have difficulty handling the truth. On another note, someone earlier tried to state that liberals don't tolerate anyone with opposing views. That comment is stunning in its stupidity, especially when you consider the worst thing a conservative can call a member of their movement is a RINO: what is a RINO? Someone who breaks from rightie orthodoxy on one issue. Righties cling to their positions harder than a Taliban leader does to his C-4.

    March 14, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  12. Stuart

    This just goes to show how disrespectful Obumer is that he would send a lunatic like Biden to such a special event.

    March 14, 2013 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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