U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp tweeted that Vice President Joe Biden’s Catholic faith conflicts with his political positions as Pope Francis prepared to address 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 join the pope during all six days of his visit as the highest-ranking Catholic in the U.S. government.
Huelskamp, who is also Catholic, criticized Biden over his support for abortion rights, which conflicts with church teaching, on Twitter.
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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 accused President Obama 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:
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 Pope Francis has been an outspoken critic of unfettered capitalism. During his speech, he 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.”