Vice President Joe Biden Receives Ashes to Mark Start of Lenten Season

By Jonathan Blakely

Feb 17, 2010 11:32am

ABC News’ Karen Travers reports: Vice President Joe Biden received ashes at an Ash Wednesday service this morning.  Biden, a Catholic, introduced President Obama at an event marking the first anniversary of the Recovery Act and the ashes were visible on his forehead. Christians celebrate Ash Wednesday every year as the first day of the season of Lent, which lasts for 40 days (not counting Sundays) until Easter Sunday. On Ash Wednesday, worshippers attend services and receive a smudge of ashes in the shape of a cross on their foreheads as a symbol of repentance.  Biden, the nation’s first Catholic vice president, regularly attends mass back in Wilmington. Last month his mother, Jean Finnegan Biden, had a Mass of Christian Burial at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Wilmington, the church she attended since 1955. It has been fifty years since John F. Kennedy became the first and only Catholic elected president. Catholic political candidates have faced significant criticism from within the faith community over questions of whether their political positions align with their religious ones. Biden said in 2007 that that his political views “are totally consistent with Catholic social doctrine.” “There are elements within the church who say that if you are at odds with any of the teachings of the church, you are at odds with the church. I think the church is bigger than that,” Biden told the Christian Science Monitor for an extensive piece on the role his faith plays in his life. “I get comfort from carrying my rosary, going to mass every Sunday. It’s my time alone,” Biden said. Today President Obama issued a statement to mark the Christian holy day. “Michelle and I join Christians here in America and around the world in observing Ash Wednesday,” the statement from the president said. “We mark this solemn day of repentance and promise, knowing that Lent is a time for millions to renew faith and also deepen a commitment to loving and serving one another.” -Karen Travers

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