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Elections

Will Joe Biden Put Down the Rosary Beads and Respond?

Joe Biden speaks during a visit to the Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Del., June 1, 2020. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

The presumptive Democrat nominee, former senator, and, so says Politico, “devout Catholic [who] has recited Scripture on the 2020 campaign trail and is known to carry rosary beads in his pocket,” has been challenged by CatholicVote to do something that should come easily to any devout Catholic, indeed to devout non-Catholics: “publicly condemn the disturbing attacks on Catholic saints, symbols, churches, statues, and beliefs that lately have become commonplace, even from within his own party.”

That’s from a statement put out this week by the . . .  devout . . . Catholic organization (its agenda is pro-life, traditional marriage, religious freedom, subsidiarity, and pro-1776). Despite its origin and its confrontational political nature, the statement makes a fair request of someone who seeks to be president, especially at a time when there are plentiful public (albeit largely media-ignored!) acts of desecration and destruction targeting Things Catholic. More from CatholicVote president Brian Burch:

Catholic churches across America are literally burning, and Joe Biden has said nothing. Leading members of the Democratic Party have fueled a climate of hate against Catholics, and these attacks have now led to acts of vandalism and violence. These attacks on the Church raise serious questions about the commitment of Joe Biden, a self-professed Catholic, to stand up to the rising climate of anti-Catholicism across the country.

Burch had better watch himself: Back in 2005, when Biden was contemplating another presidential bid, and was faced with the Devout Question, he told a Cincinnati Enquirer reporter, “The next Republican that tells me I’m not religious, I’m going to shove my rosary beads down their throat.”

But will he clear his own to condemn the spate of church burnings and vandalizations, or the desecrations, among others, of Marian statues in Massachusetts and Saint Junipero Serra statues in California, or the vandalizing of churches? And then there are those political attacks, such as AOC’s demand for the removal of the Capitol statue of the sainted “leper priest,” Fr. Damien of Molokai, and attacks on federal judicial nominees such as Brian Buescher, who was a threat to the Republic because he was a member (hold the Tootsie Rolls!) of the Knights of Columbus.

That particular stunt (there were others, including one against Judge Amy Coney Barrett) was led by Kamala Harris (at the time taken to the woodshed by Kathryn Jean Lopez), now said to be Biden’s likely choice as a ticket mate. So let’s not count on any anti-anti-Catholic statement from Biden (currently preoccupied with untangling his comments about black diversity). But do count on CatholicVote’s commencing, next week, an ad campaign hitting Biden for his silence.

At some point there was no bait to take: There could have been some decent electoral upside for Biden to shore up and polish those flimsy devout credentials. Political blessings and inoculations would have been had if he had condemned this (condemnable) spate of ugliness directed. He could have stuck to the acts of violence, and ignored criticizing his partisan comrades, and still have scored points. You can imagine a Biden statement, evolving into yarns about some old nun who said Little Joe was her favorite student, and the time as an altar boy that he dropped a candle, all of it ending with a threat to punch the lights out of anyone who might try to spray-paint a statue at his parish. But now Biden has afforded his political foes an opportunity to caste him as afraid to defend his own faith against vandals and hoodlums. Which, it seems, he is. Well, I for one will be devout in following this story.

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