In 2009, I was working for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps (JVC). For those of you unfamiliar with JVC, it is a post-graduate volunteer program where young women and men, devote 1-2 years of intentional service in impoverished communities either domestically or internationally. Basically, these are young adults seeking to create a more just and peaceful world through a commitment to living out their faith.
What does any of this have to do with Joe Biden? Joe’s son, Hunter, is a Former Jesuit Volunteer. In fact, Hunter met his former wife, Kathleen, during their shared year of JVC. When Joe was Vice-President in 2009, he agreed to headline a fundraiser for JVC. Our clunky little grassroots organization had never had a speaker of the caliber of Joe Biden. We learned a lot about vice-presidential scheduling. Yes, his team would agree to the event but it was never “firm” until the day of…one could never predict a national emergency. That being said, the Obama-Biden administration had developed the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense to prepare for future global pandemics. So yes, technically a competent administration could predict a national emergency, but I digress.
The other JVC staff members and I anxiously waited in the days leading to the event. The financial standing of the organization was always precarious; by definition, we worked with volunteers. We all knew that this lone night would make or break us for the foreseeable future. Fortunately, the Secret Service arrived at the venue about three hours before the event to secure the premises. It was really happening. The next (albeit significantly smaller hurdle) was the question of what exactly he would say. I am not referring the Joe’s predilection for gaffes. If you are a small nonprofit, for whom the Vice-President of the United States is doing you a massive favor, you don’t exactly give the guy talking points.
We should never have worried. Joe Biden spoke purely as a proud father that night. A father who watched his son join JVC, mature significantly, and realize the responsibility that comes with the depth of his own privilege. Joe credited JVC with profoundly shaping his son’s life. His remarks were beautiful. His remarks were inspiring. His remarks were genuine.
Speaking of genuine, a Jesuit priest friend of mine, got to know Joe during his time at Georgetown. When I casually asked about his experience of him, my friend simply said that Joe’s faith is prayerful and genuine.
Speaking of genuine, Joe carries a rosary with him all the time. He reportedly thumbed the beads under the desk of the Situation Room as the Navy SEAL team approached Osama bin Laden’s compound.
Speaking of genuine, the Bidens met with Pope Francis at the end of the pope’s 2015 visit. Pope Francis prayed and grieved with them over the loss of Beau Biden. Joe later said, that this meeting, “provided us with more comfort than he, I think, will understand.”
So yes, Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for President in 2020, is indeed a Catholic.
A prayerful one.
A genuine one.