U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp tweeted about Vice President Joe Biden’s Catholic faith on social media a few minutes before Pope Francis addressed Congress on Thursday.
Biden, the first Catholic to serve as vice president, sat behind the pope during the address and next to House Speaker John Boehner as president of the U.S. Senate. The vice president has spoken frequently about the importance of his faith after the death of his son, Beau, from brain cancer in May.
Biden will be joining the pope during all six days of his U.S. visit as the highest-ranking Catholic in the U.S. government.
But Huelskamp, who is also Catholic, tore into Biden over his support for abortion rights, which conflicts with church teaching, on Twitter before Pope Francis addressed Congress.
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In response, Horace Santry, a Twitter user from Wichita, pressed Huelskamp about his stance on the death penalty, which also conflicts with Catholic teaching.
The day before the Kansas Republican attacked President Obama and accused him of lying to the pope about supporting religious liberty.
The Little Sisters of the Poor, an order of nuns, has been in a legal battle with the federal government over a provision in the Affordable Care Act that requires employees be provided with insurance coverage for birth control. The pope visited the Little Sisters on Wednesday – the same day he met with the president.
During the pope’s speech, Huelskamp tweeted:
During his speech the pope did say that business could be a “fruitful source of prosperity” and a noble vocation “especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.”
But Huelskamp’s interpretation may be an oversimplification of the pontiff’s speech. Pope Francis has been an outspoken critic of unfettered capitalism and during his speech highlighted Dorothy Day, an American socialist who founded the Catholic Worker Movement in the 1930s, as one of the nation’s great heroes.
“Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints,” Pope Francis said. “How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world!”
“At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty,” he said. “They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes.”