September 21, 2015 — In an exclusive interview with America magazine, Jesuit Father Matt Malone, editor in chief of America, spoke with Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. on his Catholic faith and Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to the U.S. Vice President Biden said Pope Francis is “the embodiment of the Catholic social doctrine that I was raised with, the idea that everyone is entitled to dignity, that the poor should be given special preference, that you have an obligation to reach out and be inclusive.”
Biden, the first Roman Catholic to serve as U.S. Vice President, spoke with Fr. Malone on Sept. 17 in Washington, D.C., where the two also discussed Biden’s upbringing, his public life, the recent death of his son and speculation about a possible presidential campaign.
The Vice President also responded to critics who say the pope’s recent encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, ventured too far into politics: “He didn’t get into politics,” Biden said. “He made it clear that it’s not the papacy’s role to be the scientist-in-chief or the political arbiter.”
Asked whether religion and politics should be separate, Biden told Fr. Malone that “fundamental religious convictions in all the confessional faiths, not just Catholicism, are incapable of being separated from politics with a small ‘p’, not a capital ‘P’, not Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative.” He added, “I would be surprised if [the pope] didn’t enunciate those principles underlying all the major confessional faiths, particularly ours, and imply that there is a collective obligation to try to give meaning and life to these principles we all agree to.”
Biden also commented on the pope’s historic address to a joint session of Congress this Thursday. The pope will deliver his remarks from a lectern with Biden and U.S. House Speaker John A. Boehner seated above and behind him.
When Biden was asked whether he had discussed with Speaker Boehner how unprecedented it will be for the pope to be standing before two faithful Catholics who are political opponents, he said, “John’s a good guy and I think we’ll both be sitting there with a great deal of pride.”