Biden to lead delegation for new pope's installation
March 13th, 2013
04:52 PM ET
10 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. esu589

    Duct tape his mouth

    March 14, 2013 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  2. Larry

    This is ridiculous. He has no business going in an official capacity. Absolutely none. The church teaches exclusion intolerance and hate. Not to mention its as corrupt if not more so than the us government and its sole purpose is to control people and keep separate those it doesnt approve of and teach others to do the same

    March 14, 2013 04:39 am at 4:39 am |
  3. SugarKube

    Shotgun Joe can protect the Pope.

    March 14, 2013 05:03 am at 5:03 am |
  4. teamgreen

    Let me see here didn't Biden come out raving about Gay Marriage and Abortion here not to long ago? Must have been somebody else because I'm pretty sure the church is very against that. Just saying thats not a real good way to represent your faith Joe.

    March 14, 2013 05:42 am at 5:42 am |
  5. mike Lake Orion Michigan

    This is an embarrassment! He represents an Administration who does just the opposite of what God's message is about.

    March 14, 2013 06:02 am at 6:02 am |
  6. Sugarpunk

    Biden is going to be disappointed, this new pope, I hear, doesnt give communions to people that support abortion. Finally someone with gumption to put those baby killers in their place!!!!

    March 14, 2013 06:06 am at 6:06 am |
  7. Marie MD

    @cdhicadow – it's called welcoming a new person into the global neighborhood and who better than Vice President Biden, a catholic.
    @mrscott – the new pope is already sitting!
    I take it that fau news doesn't give any information on real news just taling right wint points?

    March 14, 2013 06:34 am at 6:34 am |
  8. kevin

    Maybe Joe can pull the Pope to the side and see if he can get all of these Catholic businesses and colleges that are suing the government on board for Obamacare.

    March 14, 2013 06:48 am at 6:48 am |
  9. The Elephant in the Room

    Joe – Please take Paul Ryan with you along with all those faux "men of faith" [you know, alll the bible thumping politicians].

    Pope Francis has eschewed luxurious and creature comforts relative to other Cardinals & Bishops in the Catholic Church. He believes in serving the needs of the poor, not the wealthy. Pope Francis WILL NOT excplicitly or tacitlly endorse a budget that takes from the more needy [MediCare/MedicAid / elder Social Security recipients] and TRANSFERS wealth to the affluent. Pope Francis will not be behind the "carried interest" loophole used by Romney to pay a 13% tax rate. [Actually, I`l bet it`s lower now that he isn`t running for anything.]

    March 14, 2013 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  10. Faithful Catholic?

    I wonder if Catholic VP (and strong abortion rights advocate) Biden will have time to tell Pope Francis he is wrong about abortion?

    March 14, 2013 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  11. It's Me

    HaHaHa...Biden? That IS funny. It should be interesting to hear what he has to say, always is.

    March 14, 2013 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  12. No-Brand Hero

    Biden has crossed the Rubicon! The die is cast!

    March 14, 2013 08:27 am at 8:27 am |
  13. Tony

    The right wing racist machine is out in full force today.

    March 14, 2013 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  14. futureman1

    I understand the VP going to other countries for important events but to celebrate the installation of new leadership to an organization that is built around the belief of spirits in the sky is silly. Maybe the Catholics in this country can pass the plate and pay for this dog and pony show!

    March 14, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  15. Al-NY,NY


    Biden is going to be disappointed, this new pope, I hear, doesnt give communions to people that support abortion. Finally someone with gumption to put those baby killers in their place!!!!

    well then I guess he wouldn't give communion to a majority of "those baby killers" since more Catholics support abortion as a choice than those that don't. Good try though. Next...

    March 14, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  16. Voter

    Will he bring his shotgun?

    March 14, 2013 08:54 am at 8:54 am |
  17. Henry

    Washington is sending a message to the world about how much the current administration values its relationship with Vatican... by letting a clown to lead a delegation ??

    March 14, 2013 08:56 am at 8:56 am |
  18. Rudy NYC

    I think that it would be politically savvy for VP Biden to extend invitations to some of the top conservative names who identify themselves as Christian Conservatives, names like: Santorum, Huckabee, or even Perry. It would be win-win for Biden. If they refuse the offer, then they look bad to the public as having put politics above religion. If the accept the offer, then they will be active part of the "taxpayer paid vacation" criticism that will be sure to come from the extreme right wing. I say, "Bring some of the Republicans along for the ride, Joe."

    March 14, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  19. abmri60

    So Biden can rant and rave that he went to a Jesuit school ?

    March 14, 2013 09:01 am at 9:01 am |
  20. v_mag

    Pardon me for pointing out the obvious. This Pope is another old white guy in a new white robe and beanie. There is nothing to suggest that he will do anything other than "stay the course" the Church has charted for 2 thousand years. He will do nothing to liberate the poor or women or gays. He won't put a stop to rampant pedophilia or the greed of Church leaders.

    He will give a lot of lip service to helping the poor and downtrodden. That will give hope to some, but it won't materially improve their situation and may do long-term damage by keeping people from organizing and doing things to better themselves. The ungodly wealth of the Church will continue to increase while the people who make up the Church will continue to suffer under poverty, no control over their own minds and bodies, and ignorant superstition.

    The same could be said for all evangelical organizations, from Baptists to Muslims. They are and always have been about the few controlling and sponging off the many. Only the blind cannot see that.

    March 14, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  21. JANEY

    I like Joe Biden, but I do NOT believe he should be attending in any offical capacity, what the hell happened to separation of church and state. These religious people want thier cake and eat it to. I was born and raised catholic but I do not believe ANY decisons in government should be made on ANY religious belief's. Most of the really religious people I know are hate filled, judgemental, and closed minded.

    March 14, 2013 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  22. Chuck

    Taxpayer funded vacation. What is wrong with a writing letter?

    March 14, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |

    Why is he spending the tax payers money to go to Rome when they can't even come up with a budget...hasn't he heard the money runs out the 27th of March? Absolutely disgusting and wrong.

    March 14, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  24. Getoverit

    The right wing racist machine is out in full force today.
    That's funny, I don't see a single racist commenr here. Unless, of course, you embrace the Liberal definition of racist: "Anyune who disagrees with me on any subject"

    March 14, 2013 09:24 am at 9:24 am |
  25. RuDeranged

    how much is this trip going to add to our debt?

    March 14, 2013 09:26 am at 9:26 am |
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