The morning of Election Day, Joseph R. Biden Jr. prayed during Mass at the Catholic parish near his home in Delaware. Late that night, when it became clear that no winner would be determined, Mr Biden spoke to supporters. He urged patience, told them that he believed he would be elected president and asked them to “keep the faith.” The president-elect kept the faith, and major news outlets have projected Mr. Biden has captured enough electoral votes to win the presidency. He will be just the second Catholic to hold the office.
In a 2015 interview with America’s editor in chief, Matt Malone, S.J., Mr Biden called his faith a “gift,” saying his parents inculcated in him Catholic values.
“Jesus Christ is the human embodiment of what God wanted us to do,” Mr Biden said. “Everything Jesus did was sort of consistent with what generically we were supposed to do: treat people with dignity.”
In that interview, Mr Biden spoke about his meeting with Pope Francis in 2013. “He’s the embodiment of Catholic social doctrine that I was raised with,” the former vice president said. “The idea that everyone’s entitled to dignity, that the poor should be given special preference, that you have an obligation to reach out and be inclusive.” Mr. Biden traces his Catholic faith back to Catholic schools in Delaware and Pennsylvania. He wrote in his memoir, Promises to Keep, that during a visit to a Catholic grade school, a child asked Mr Biden if he wanted to be president, and he replied that he was happy being a senator. But a Catholic sister corrected Mr Biden. “You know that’s not true, Joey Biden,” she said, before showing him an essay he had written as a child saying he wanted to be president. He wears a rosary around his wrist, a gift his son, Hunter, gave to Mr Biden’s late son, Beau. Mr Biden has said his faith has helped him cope with personal tragedy, including the death of his wife and daughter in a 1972 car crash and then again in 2015, when his son Beau died from cancer. Mr Biden had a health scare himself in 1988, shortly after he dropped out of the presidential race. He was admitted to Saint Francis Hospital in Wilmington. With his family gathered around, a priest visited to administer the sacrament of anointing. Mr Biden healed following surgery, and for the next two decades, he returned to work in the Senate.
“He’s the embodiment of Catholic social doctrine that I was raised with,” the former vice president said. “The idea that everyone’s entitled to dignity.” Later, in 2008, Mr Biden’s political fortunes changed when then-Senator Barack Obama chose him as his running mate. According to Mr Obama’s chief strategist, David Axelrod, Mr Obama chose Mr Biden, in part, because “he came from a working-class Catholic family in a pivotal part of the country and still spoke of that experience.”