Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

21.51 16 Dec 2020


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A friend and spiritual adviser to US President-elect Joe Biden says Catholic faith is 'really important' to the Democrat.

Fr Kevin O’Brien says the veteran politician is someone who 'regularly goes to church' and always carries a rosary with him.

Mr Biden will become only the second Catholic to sit in the Oval Office, following John F Kennedy.

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Fr O'Brien - a Jesuit priest whose family emigrated from Kerry to Canada in the 1800s - told The Hard Shoulder he got to know Mr Biden and his wife Jill during his time at a parish in Washington DC.

'He always carries a rosary' - Spiritual adviser to Joe Biden on US President-elect's Catholic faith

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He said: "I got to know him there, and then I was moved to Georgetown University across the street... he would often come to mass in the college chapel on Sunday evenings when he was in town.

"Joe regularly goes to church - it's very important to his practice of the faith.

"He was always very good about making sure to not cause any commotion... he'd slip in just after mass started, and slip in just before the end so as not to disrupt anything."

He said the Bidens are 'very upfront' about the importance of faith in their lives, and it's something that 'grounds them'.

The Jesuit priest said Mr Biden is also very open about the 'low moments' in his life - including the deaths of his first wife and young daughter in 1972, and the death of his son Beau in 2015.

Fr O'Brien observed: "He relied on the rituals of the Catholic faith to sustain him.

"He always carries a rosary around. He prays regularly, because it's important to him.

"Many people will tell stories of the President-Elect calling people who have suffered some loss... people he knew well, and people he didn't know well.

"We need more empathy and compassion in this world - people see that in him. I think that's one of the reasons why he was elected."

While faith is important to the President-elect, Fr O'Brien believes it's something that 'informs' rather than 'dictates' what leaders do in power.

He suggested: "It's lonely in leadership, and at least he has his family to rely on faith to sustain him... not necessarily choosing this or that thing in terms of policy, but allowing him to get through the day and lead with confidence.

"His faith is part of the mix, as he makes decisions as a person and as a public official."

Main image: File photo of Joe Biden. Picture by: Patrick Semansky/AP/Press Association Images

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