Joe Biden: ‘I Happen to be a Practicing Catholic’

By Staff | March 30, 2016 | 4:15pm EDT
Vice President Joe Biden, speaking at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast on March 30, 2016. (Screen Capture)

( - In a speech introducing President Barack Obama at the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast, Vice President Joe Biden said that “we all practice the same basic faith.”

“We all practice the same basic faith but different faiths,” said Biden. “I happen to be a practicing Catholic, and I grew up learning from the nuns and the priests who taught me what we used to call Catholic social doctrine. But it's not fundamentally different than a doctrine of any of the great confessional faiths.”

Here is the transcript of the vice president’s speech

My wife, Jill, whenever she wants to make sure I get the message that she wants to deliver to me that morning, literally, she tapes it on the mirror while I'm shaving.  (Laughter.)  You think I'm joking -- I'm not joking.  And about a year and a half ago -- a little longer, actually, almost two years ago -- she taped a quote on my mirror at home in Wilmington which is still there, and it's a quote from Kierkegaard.  He said, “Faith sees best in the dark.”  Faith sees best in the dark.  And all of you know better than anyone that faith is a gift from God.  Because faith works best when you're the least.  Faith works best when you're most frightened, in my view.  And faith works best when you're not exactly sure where to go.

And I know there’s a lot of fear and unease around the world.  The President and I travel around the world a lot, and all you got to do is just look at the recent attacks in Belgium and Turkey and Pakistan.  And while fear is understandable, exploiting that fear is absolutely unacceptable.  When innocent people are ostracized simply because of their faith, when we turn our backs on the victims of evil and persecution, it's just wrong.

So it's up to us -- and you’ve been the leaders in this country -- to recognize that fear, but also try to allay that fear, and to help people understand that what unites us is a lot more than what divides us.  And it's embodied in just not what we believe but what we say.

We all practice the same basic faith but different faiths.  I happen to be a practicing Catholic, and I grew up learning from the nuns and the priests who taught me what we used to call Catholic social doctrine.  But it's not fundamentally different than a doctrine of any of the great confessional faiths.  It's what you do to the least among us that you do unto me.  It's we have an obligation to one another.  It's we cannot serve ourselves at the expense of others, and that we have a responsibility to future generations.

All faiths have a version of these teachings, and we all practice and preach that we should practice what we say.  Opening doors to the victims of war, as the President has been trying to do -- a war of terrorism and oppression.  Accepting people of all faiths and respecting their right to practice their religion as they choose, or choose not to practice any religion.  Resisting the urge to let our fears overcome what we value most -- our openness, our freedom, and our freedom to practice our faith.

And a faith that sees and shines light in dark moments is what you’ve preached.  And my favorite hymn in my church is based on the 91st Psalm, Mr. President -- it's “On Eagle’s Wings.”  And it's my wish for all of you.  You may remember the refrain.  It says:  He will raise you up on eagle’s wings, and bear you on the breath of dawn.  Make you to shine like the sun, and hold you in the palm of His hand.

That's my wish for all of you because we desperately need you at this time to reinforce a sense of confidence and faith in the American people, to appeal, as Lincoln said, to their better angels. 

And I'm grateful to have stood by someone these last seven years who understands this -- and I mean this -- understands it to his core.  It's stamped in his DNA.  It's who he is.  I've served with eight Presidents; I've never been with anyone who has more character than this man, and has faith.


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