Vice President Joe Biden led the White House delegation to the Vatican last week for the inaugural Mass of newly elected Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Buenos Aires.
Biden, a self-professed Catholic, told a gathering of Irish-Americans in New York City on Thursday why he did not kiss the pope’s ring when he met him, a common practice of reverence for the Holy Father for Catholics. The fisherman’s ring worn by the pope is a sign that he is the successor to St. Peter.
According to the Associated Press, Biden said that, as a young U.S. senator who was about to meet the queen of England, his mother called him and told him not to kiss the queen’s ring.
Some years later, when then-Senator Biden was to meet Pope John Paul II, the vice president said that his mother told him not to kiss the pope’s ring.
Biden said that his father, an Irish immigrant, was “all about dignity,” and that his mother told him that no one is “better” than him. Biden said his mother told him that while he should treat everyone with respect, he should also “demand respect.”