Why Joe Biden Is Following Pope Francis Throughout His US Trip

Biden is the government's highest-ranking Catholic, first to be vice president.

— -- It seems that wherever Pope Francis goes on his trip to the United States, so does Vice President Joe Biden, the government’s highest-ranking Catholic.

While President Obama was front and center at the White House Wednesday, Biden, the first Roman Catholic vice president, will trail the pope throughout his six-day visit to the United States.

The vice president and his family joined Obama in welcoming Pope Francis at Joint Base Andrews Tuesday. At the White House today, the vice president and Jill Biden sat in the first row as Francis spoke to more than 11,000 people on the South Lawn of the White House.

That’s the last time Obama will see Pope Francis in person during this visit, but Biden’s papal attentiveness continues. In the evening, he will be in attendance when the pope canonizes Junipero Serra, a Hispanic Franciscan monk who worked to evangelize the California coast during the 18th century, during a mass at the National Basilica.

Biden will then sit behind the Pope Thursday as he addresses a joint session of Congress, becoming the first pontiff to speak before the legislative branch. The vice president will then pick up his duties Sunday when he and his wife lead the ceremony in Philadelphia bidding Pope Francis farewell as he concludes his trip to the United States.

Pope Francis’ visit holds particular importance to Biden, a devout Catholic who has relied on his faith since the death of son Beau in May.

“He’s the embodiment of Catholic social doctrine that I was raised with. The idea that everyone’s entitled to dignity,” the vice president said of Pope Francis in an interview with the Rev. Matt Malone, president and editor in chief of America Media, an ABC News partner.

“I’m excited, quite frankly, as a practicing Catholic. I am really excited by the whole world is getting to see what are the basic essential elements of what constitutes Catholicism.”