Sister, teacher note significance of a Catholic president

Biden attends Mass regularly, is “devout,” Sr. Stewart says


Photo from in the public domain

President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is only the second Catholic President in the history of the United States.

Ainsley Danilson, Reporter

When Joseph R. Biden Jr. was inaugurated on Jan. 20, he became the second Catholic President in the history of the United States, the other beingPresident John F. Kennedy. 

Biden now steps into the spotlight not only as the leader of the United States, but also as a leader for American Catholics. 

Religion teacher Mrs. Katie Lewis said she hopes Biden establishes himself as a role model for Catholics across the country. “I like how he has been going to Mass. I think it’s really neat how he takes that time for prayer,” she said. Biden also regularly attended Mass in Washington, D.C. when he served as vice president for former President Barack Obama. 

Biden worships at Holy Trinity Catholic Church, which is the same parish that Kennedy frequently visited during his tenure as president from 1961 until he was assassinated in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963.  

Social studies teacher Sr. Mary Ann Stewart was in eighth grade when Kennedy was elected President of the United States. She said, “So many people at that time were afraid that if a Catholic was elected, the pope would take over the United States. Kennedy had to assure people that he would make his own decisions and not rely on the pope.” 

Sr. Stewart added that like Biden, Kennedy was what she called a “very devout Catholic.” 

While Biden holds his strong Catholic beliefs, the separation of church and state remains in effect. Lewis said, “When (Biden) makes decisions, votes or vetoes bills, he’s going to do what the Constitution says. But I do think he’s going to do it in a way that is prayerful and respectful.”

Biden’s faith could also possibly play into his perspective on major controversial topics like abortion and the death penalty. 

People will have a very high standard for him.”

— Religion teacher Mrs. Katie Lewis

Lewis said, “Some of that controversy has already started up a little bit. I think that’s going to be a personal issue that he struggles with. People will have a very high standard for him.” 

Sr. Stewart said, “Biden is definitely opposed to the death penalty. I’ve also heard that the number of abortions go down during Democratic presidencies because there tend to be more programs to help people who may have feared that they could to support a child, such as the Affordable Care Act.” 

Lewis added that Biden’s ruling on the controversial issues could influence how Catholics view these same problems. 

Another impact that Biden’s religious and political position could have is an increased number of Catholics involved in politics. Lewis said she hopes that is the case. She said, “The Catholic population makes up a lot of the United States, so it makes sense for there to be more Catholic politicians.”

Although it can be challenging to understand where the line between faith and politics is drawn, Sr. Stewart said, “This is all very confusing for a lot of people. Separation of church and state is definitely a concern here. 

Lewis said, “Biden seems to have a knowledge of Catholic social teaching and that will help him and guide him in his presidency and I think that it will reflect his decisions as well.” She also noted that she believes that Biden will figure out how to balance his faith with the decisions he makes, while also maintaining separation of church and state. 

“I hope that he sets a good example through his decisions,” Lewis said. Since he holds such a prominent position of power, his views and decisions could influence how Catholics view important issues in the faith and in the world. 

“I believe that he’ll do what he thinks is right,” Stewart said as well. 

There are high hopes for Biden to make good decisions for the country and to positively influence the Catholic community in the United States.

Co-editor-in-chief Ashlynn Bakemeyer contributed to this story.