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Joe Biden loves the nuns, too! (And he brings ice cream)

Political campaigns are all about generating publicity and public support, but Vice-President Biden seems to have upended conventional wisdom -- not a first for him, of course -- by making an under-the-radar visit to the motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Francis in Dubuque during a two-day campaign trip to Iowa last week.

Why the secrecy, Joe? These days everybody loves the nuns. Yet while the media covered Biden's various events as he appealed to the usual constituencies in the battleground state, there was nary a word about his stopover last Tuesday (June 26) to bring dessert to the sisters. 

“The Vice-President got to know the sisters through an old friend in Dubuque, during a previous trip to the city,” said a campaign official, speaking on background. "This was nothing more than a private, casual reunion of friends of faith over ice cream and cookies." There were about 150 people at the gathering.

The news just surfaced along with this campaign photo of Biden greeting some of the sisters. And this would be controversial?

Well, maybe. Consider that American nuns who by and large run the nation's Catholic hospitals have been major supporters of President Obama's health care reform, and that they have locked horns with the Catholic bishops over that law and the contraception mandate and a number of other issues.

Not to mention the Vatican crackdown on the American leadership of the nuns, who Rome says are spending too much time on social justice and not enough preaching about sexual ethics, of the orthodox variety.

And of course the "Nuns on the Bus" are just wrapping up their tour to highlight what they see as a gap -- or chasm, actually -- between Republican budget-cutting policies and Catholic teaching, not to mention fiscal probity. A number of bishops view speaking out on economic issues as "partisan" -- that is, against the Republican Party.

Bonus factoid for those who enjoy their inside baseball, be it politics or Catholicism: Sr. Pat Farrell, the nun who as head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is tasked with talking to the Vatican about the attempted takeover of the LCWR, is based in the Dubuque motherhouse.

It is not known if Farrell was there to meet the vice-president. Leaders of the Franciscan community declined requests for comment or details about Biden's visit, but I'm sure plenty of others will be happy to fill in the blanks.

Topics: Politics, Election
Beliefs: Christian - Catholic
Tags: barack obama, catholic church, contraception mandate, health care reform, joe biden, lcwr, sr. pat farrell


  1. “This was nothing more than a private, casual reunion of friends of faith over ice cream and cookies.”  What Faith?  The cafeteria style of faith.  They belong together, both believe in the Healthcare Bill that covers Birth-control Pills, which are abortifacients (causing abortions), abortion on demand and sterilizations.  If that was not enough, they believe in redefining marriage to the pseudo-marriage ( man on man and woman on woman) proposed by, Joe Biden, the Vice President of the United States. Just last week, President Obama campaigned at a High School Campus promoting his Affordable Healthcare Bill and said that it is so important that the youth should have access to birth-control pills.  Since when does the President and Vice President , from their respective bully- pulpits, actively pimp?

  2. I’m pretty sure VPOTUS wouldn’t want to second-guess China’s one-child policy, either.

  3. Ha Ha….Biden has no faith.

  4. Cafeteria style Faith, NUNS on the bus and etc had been accepting donations in the name of…........................instead of for the good and welfare of all people. Today, they forgot their VOWS because they know that somehow, somewhere they are well taken cared off and it was easier to make themselves the victim, the poor. We can easily be lured with the spirit of Satan when there are donors out there who can be very convincing that we could loss our conscience.

  5. PLEASE stop mischaracterizing the assessment of the Nun’s leadership conference (LCWR) as criticism that the sisters are “spending too much time on social justice and not enough preaching about sexual ethics”. Surely you know that the Vatican’s CDF praised the social justice work of the nuns for the first 3 out of 8 pages of the report!
    The assessment is about specific doctrinal issues. The legitimate concerns of Cardinal Leveda are serious and worthy of concern. It is disappointing to see journalists, activists and now the Vice President use this matter to advance a political agenda.

  6. Is the tall person in the plaid shirt a woman or a man?  Nuns are best off returning to their habits (and by that, I mean their uniform clothing).

  7. James:  We don’t know.  She/he ?? looks like the character “Pat” from Saturday Night Live.  And why didn’t the nun gushing with Biden ask him about his support of gay marriage and point out what the Bible says?

  8. It’s sad to see so many harsh judgements in many of these comments. Whatever happened to civil discourse and “speaking the truth in love”?

  9. We do not need to have this cafeteria Catholic peddaling his gibberish, ice cream and cookies to nuns or anyone else.  He is simply soliciting votes.  These were the nuns that I had in school in Waterloo, Iowa.  I can’t believe they would fall for his flattery.  He believes in gay marriage, abortion and contraception.

  10. Wow, lots of ugly comments.

  11. “cafeteria Catholic” - very overused word and very distasteful.

  12. @ Rev. Thomas Ivory:  When is the last time you read the gospel?  Seems Jesus did not “always” speak the truth in loving kindness.  If you need help finding those passages, let me know and I will provide them.  People like you and Monsignor Lynn are the problem today.  We need more clergy ordained having intestinal fortitude and less emphasis on the kumbaya.

  13. Biden: “The smoke of Satan”.

  14. There is nothing sadder these days than to see the collusion between this administration and cafetaria catholics.  No, they will not bring down the church, but how many souls have been or will be lost because of them?  Pray, pray, pray and pray some more.  Life is so short and eternity so loooooong!

  15. Civil discourse should indeed predominate, and I would ask all commenters here to abide by a sense of decorum and decency. Comparing Father Ivory to Msgr. Lynn, a convicted criminal, is out of bounds. Argue substance, no ad hominems allowed.

  16. “the nun who as head of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is tasked with talking to the Vatican about the attempted takeover of the LCWR”

    Odd slanted phrasing. Not sure how one can accurately call it an “attempted take over” when LCWR was created by the Vatican in 1956 and remains under its direction. 


  17. Birds of a feather flock together

  18. What complete nonsense.  Jesus Christ would barely recognize Mr. Biden through the souls killed by Mr. Biden’s abortion support.  May the Lord have profound mercy on this heartless, corrupt, supporter of unborn babies.  May Jesus Christ defend the children murdered by this corrupt man.


  20. If Jesus was on the earth today you would have him crucified all over again and maybe you all should read the New Testament.
    “Love one another as I have loved you”.

  21. This has NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING, to do with judging.  That is a weak and cowardly argument for someone to use when he/she does not want to call someone out on their sin.  I am not judging Joe Biden’s salvation. 

    However, I can tell you supporting abortion, same sex marriage, and contraception are intrinsically evil act and are thus classified as mortal sins.  Also, I do not know if people are aware of this, but in going to the voting booth, we will all be held accountable for who we vote for.  Are that individual’s values compatible with Catholic Church teaching??  Was the other candidate’s values more in line with Catholic Church teaching?

    I am not a huge Romney fan and I realize that people may accuse him of being a cult, but with that being said, at least he stands for regular marriage and is Pro-Life.  I certainly hope that people are not naive enough to believe that Barack Obama is really a Christian.  Ask yourself the following question?  How many SOLID catholics or christians that you know of support abortion and same sex marriage?

  22. “truth in love”? .... whom am I to judge? .....May we remember the spiritual works of mercy (love). Three of which are instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful and oh yes admonish the sinner (not placate them, not be silent, or water down what is beautiful, good and right given to us by our Lord). It isn’t love to allow people to remain in error. It isn’t love to support people in sin. It is love to speak with the truth clearly, succinctly, and yes with a Christlike charity. We love all people but Jesus never tolerated sin. So yes we can and should judge people’s actions not excuse them of their intentional error. It is in the Truth we are set free. Jesus, please grant us the grace to courageously bear witness to what you have entrusted to your church. Amen.

  23. @David Gibson:  your comments are fair.  At the same time, like Mike Feehan posts above, no one is calling into question the ultimate salvation of anyone.  We do not judge the person.  However, we can judge sin.  Jesus says so and Paul’s letters do as well.  Jesus said “Ye shall know them by their fruit.”  There is plenty of Catholic rotten fruit out there which needs to be removed, tossed out or voted out.

  24. Divide and conquer…

  25. I use to be a cafeteria carholic when a college student at mount st Mary college in NH. I was 27 at the time. I invited one of the nuns over for Lunch not realizing she was liberal. To my surprise she brought with her a six pack of beer to go with the lunch I prepared for a “real type sister”. Well she had more than lunch in mind. She was not dressed in habit and looked more like a lesbian which I quickly figured out. One of my classes was a debate on abortion. This was back in 1976. And the church has been going down ever since. But thank God I have seen the light. No longer cafeteria style but those nuns created many liberal Catholics out of those young women. God help us.

  26. I think Jesus is crying again to see what his people have done and distorted his words. God punish those who disobayed him many times in the bible. Its not about social justice, thats communism, Its about equal justice. There is a difference. mandateing people to have abortions and insurance to pay for such is just wrong and goes against peoples conscience. Gay Marriage is not what Jesus created. That is mans sin.You can love the sinner and pray for him but hate the sin because it will destroy mankind.

  27. What a bunch of rubbish. The new repoerter wants us to believe good old Joe wasn’t politicking by making this personal visit to the motherhouse, but I find it a bit disingenuous that the photo was taken with what is likely the only nun within a hundred miles wearing a habit. Makes for a good photo op.  Why doesn’t he stop by and visit the Nashville Dominicans?
    As for the winers on this combox crying about judging, you really need to learn what “judgment” means.  And for those of you commanding everyone to love one another, I suggest you learn what that means also, and I can tell you this, it is not a feeling, nor does it necessarily require that anyone be liked.

  28. Curious why in 20 years these ‘Nuns’ aka ‘Sisters’ will be no more?  Their average age is about 75 as you can see in the picture.  Just wait them out, soon they will be paying the piper a visit and their ideologies, agendas, and political sway will be a memory of liberal feminist nuns at their worst.  The vulture of death is sitting on the cross beam in that room waiting for the inevitable doom that awaits the sisters in question.

  29. Great to see these nuns get to visit with the Vice President. These sisters are very inspirational. Just remember folks, these nuns are the ones teaching in schools, running hospitals and ministering to the poor - they do some of the most important work in the church. Most Catholics stand with these sisters, not the bishops. The Catholic church hierarchy should spend less of their time worrying about women using birth control and what gay people are up to. They should focus less on these divise social issues and more on the wonderful things the church does so well: working with the poor, fighting for social justice, providing a beautiful liturgy. Just remember, to all of you criticizing “cafeteria catholics” who support gay rights, birth control usage and other so-called “controversial” social issues, the vast majorities of young Catholics have these beliefs. Keep an open mind, folks, because otherwise there won’t be much of a church left in 30-40 years if you keep driving these people out, including these brave nuns, because you think they are not “Catholic” enough!

  30. Mike - First off, these are not ‘Nuns’ Nuns are women who are cloistered and do not leave the convent, these are ‘Sisters’.  There is a difference.  What will be those wonderful things the Church does if it does not first take care of it’s own family?  By allowing people to pursue homosexual and disordered relationships the Church would be killing itself from within.  Can’t you see that?  There is no cafeteria Catholic.. you are either Catholic or your not.  If you support gays, abortion, and other grave matters and are not willing to listen to the Church and God.. then leave.. go somewhere else.. the Church does not need ‘catholics’ that are weak and want to bring the Church down to their own sinful level. 

    There will be a stronger and a better Church in 30-40 years when these ‘old-ladies-wearing-pant-suits’ have passed on to receive their eternal reward and their orders have either renewed and gone back to the habit and their founders charisms or they have died out.  That is when the Church will once again be strong.

  31. I agree with you Mike.  The Catholic church hierarchy is so stuck on the “pelvic zone” and should clean up its own house first before pointing the finger at others.
    If Jesus were here today he would be standing with the outcasts of society and not judging others. St Francis lived with the so called sinners in his day—the lepers.
    All of you out there so ready to judge——just what are you doing to promote everything that Jesus stood for——quit spewing hate and demeaning groups of people that you know little about.

  32. If the Bishops really cared about what Catholics in the pew actually think, they would take to heart the comments being made in this blog.  We are not some abberation or a bunch of disgruntled vocal Catholics.  In my experience, we are mainstream and tired of same old, same old.  Most all Bishops are appointed by referral promotion having nothing to do with leadership, managerial or spirituality skills. Ain’t that the truth !  As evidence, just look at the USCCB collective as a whole.  They have failed to lead and failed all of us.  The church has more problems than you can shake a stick at.  So many of the Bishops are weak men and most were appointed by JP2 who now they want to canonize for sainthood.  Really?  Over the last ten years I personally know several people who have left for the Evangelical church (a dirty little secret the Amercian Catholic Bishops don’t want you to know).  Yes, not every Christian church is a model of Christ nor are they perfect as well.  But this constant drum beat of the Catholic social gospel slant is nothing more than socialism.  It’s amazing how people in the pew will respond when their parish Priests and the Bishops actually preach and teach the uncomprimised gospel with some spine.  Then again, they would have to create some commission to study and pray on this, wait 5 years, issue some new statement and create a new commission to study more.  There’s also the problem of the mandate of keeping the Sunday Mass homily to a maximum of 7 seven minutes.

  33. Let’s go with the social whims and allow Church policy to be determined by public popularity.  Great idea!  No rock solid faith - be and let be.  The Great Oz has spoken - please ignore the Magisterium of Nuns behind the curtain.

  34. @AMom:  Consider that the Lord also works through His people and does not only reveal Himself to a select few men in the Vatican.  When His bishops and priests fail to lead, the Lord will find others (you and I in the pew) to hold them accountable.  As Nathan strongly pointed out to King David “Though art the man!”—to reveal David’s sin.  Standing for righteousness and Bible-based principles are the issue,—not popularity.

  35. The following says it all—found on the internet and written by a priest:

    The point that must be remembered is that most of political and church history has been controlled and written by people on the Right because they are normally the people in control. One of the few subversive texts in history, believe it or not, is the Bible. The Bible is a most extraordinary text because again and again it legitimates not the people on the top, but invariably the people on the bottom—from Abraham to Moses to Jeremiah to Job to John the Baptist to Jesus.

    After a while you might get tired of the rejected son, the younger son, the barren woman, the sinner, the outsider always being the chosen one of God! It is the biblical pattern—which we prefer not to see. It takes away our power to exclude “the least of the brothers and sisters” because that is precisely where Jesus says he is to be found (Matthew 25:40)! If indeed women, blacks, other religions, gays, and other “outsiders” are “least” in our definition, it seems that gives them in fact a privileged and revelatory position! They are not to be excluded, but honored. Jesus takes away from us any possibility of creating any class system or any punitive notion of religion. Unfortunately, thus far, it has not worked very well.

  36. Such ugly comments about nuns here! How many of you gave up your own personal lives 100% to others? I know many Sisters personally and I have nothing but respect for them.

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