Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Whereas John F. Kennedy encouraged Americans to view his Catholic faith as a private matter, Joe Biden has made his faith a defining element of his public identity. Biden wears a rosary bracelet, casually crosses himself during conversations with foreign dignitaries, and likes to conclude speeches by quoting from the anthem of postconciliar American Catholicism, “On Eagle’s Wings.” In his 2007 memoir, he writes that what he learned from the Catholic Church has “always been the governing force” in his political career.

Biden has famously broken with Catholic teaching on matters such as abortion and same-sex marriage, but his insistence on his Catholic identity deserves to be taken seriously. It reflects the continuing appeal—and persistent failure—of a certain idea of Catholic politics, one that seeks to recapture the achievements of mid-century by placing one foot in left-wing politics and the other in the Catholic faith.

You've reached the end of your free articles for the month.
Read without Limits.
Stacked Mgazines
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article.
Purchase this article for
only $1.99
Already a subscriber?
Click here to log in.