A symbol of Catholic piety comforted at least one person during the tense moments when President Obama and his top advisors watched and waited for news during the operation that ultimately killed Osama bin Laden. From the New York Times:

On Sunday afternoon, as the helicopters raced over Pakistani territory, the president and his advisers gathered in the Situation Room of the White House to monitor the operation as it unfolded. Much of the time was spent in silence. Mr. Obama looked “stone faced,” one aide said. Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. fingered his rosary beads. “The minutes passed like days,” recalled John O. Brennan, the White House counterterrorism chief.

Read the full article here.

Comments

Gillian Brunet | 5/5/2011 - 2:51pm
Tom, I don't see why you automatically question the religious observance of the Vice President, or any politician of either party, really.  Biden attends Mass fairly regularly, I believe.  One of my friends once encountered Biden at a small fundraiser for the Jesuit Volunteer Corps-not a particularly high-flying Washington event, by any means, so not the sort of thing you would expect anyone insincere about their faith to attend.

Of course I have no idea what Vice President Biden's prayer life is like, nor is it really my business.  But I have no cause to doubt his sincerity, and without cause to doubt it behooves me to be more ready to accept his sincerity than to condemn it.  Nor do I question the sincerity of President G.W. Bush's faith, much as I may disagree with much of what he has said and done.  You don't have to like any politician to accept the sincerity of their faith.
Anonymous | 5/4/2011 - 4:31pm
"I do not beleive he would be doing his job by not paying 100% attention to what  was going on and I think Biden is professional enough to know it is not prayer time.  One is not called to the Siduation Room to pray.  Something crtical is going on which everyone must be completely focused on.  Prayer at this time is fales piety that no serious person would do. It is not time to pray."

I assume at the time the picture was taken, the attack was under way and as such scant little any one of those people in the room could do at that moment BUT pray.  Besides, and I mean this in no disrespect to Biden personally, but I'm pretty sure the Vice-President of the US is the least important person in the room.
Tom Maher | 5/4/2011 - 3:51pm
David (#15)

Superstition cnn be defined as any blindly accepted belief or notion according to the  Random House Dictionary where the example given of this word useage is "He accepted the superstition that the party was always right."   This agrees with my observation of a non-critical acceptance that Joe Biden is prying at a super crtical realtime maontoring of a realtime military action.  As the picture above shows everyone in the room is glued to the TV action.  Yet we are to belive that Joe Biden alone becasue he is a Catholic is less fully engaed and is praying. This is not  credible.  

Biden would not be doing his job by paying less than 100% attention to what  was going on and I think Biden is professional enough to know it is not prayer time.  One is not called to the Siduation Room to pray.  Something crtical is going on which everyone must be completely focused on.  Prayer is wonderful but at this crtical time it would be   fales piety that no serious person would do. It was not time to pray for anyone.
Tom Maher | 5/4/2011 - 3:46pm
David (#15)

Superstition cnn be defined as any blindly accepted belief or notion according to the  Random House Dictionary where the example given of this word useage is "He accepted the superstition that the party was always right."   This agrees with my observation of a non-critical acceptance that Joe Biden is prying at a super crtical realtime maontoring of a realtime military action.  As the picture above shows everyone in the room is glued to the TV action.  Yet we are to belive that Joe Biden alone becasue he is a Catholic is less fully engaed and is praying. This is not  credible.  

I do not beleive he would be doing his job by not paying 100% attention to what  was going on and I think Biden is professional enough to know it is not prayer time.  One is not called to the Siduation Room to pray.  Something crtical is going on which everyone must be completely focused on.  Prayer at this time is fales piety that no serious person would do. It is not time to pray.
david power | 5/4/2011 - 2:27pm
@Tom Maher,

Thanks for the response and I agree with your outlook on superstitions and the need for faith to be rooted in reason.
 However, I think that the New York Times is this time probably not lying.Like David Smith said he may be using them as worry beads and fingering them.
The actor Martin Sheen does this and the sharpest and shrewdest man I have ever met in my life also has the practise.Do you rank the Rosary as a superstition?

Like Jeff Landry I too am comforted by the "disputed fact". It is a fallen world and those who have an Adamic vision will never see things for what they are.

@Maria,I never said the guy was a Saint.As you know, I set the bar high :).
Anonymous | 5/4/2011 - 11:58am
Man, oh man, it is so sad to me that we as Catholics have become so polarized that every expression of religious devotion by a politician is immediately subjected to the crudest attacks.  This was true when George W. Bush was president, when people (liberals) objected to his every invocation of faith, and the same is happening now to VP Biden.  I wouldn't vote for Joe Biden if he were the last man on earth (mostly for his shameful attack on Sam Alito (ANOTHER Catholic) trying to paint him as a racist), but I do find it comforting to know there was prayer.  If I were in that Sit Room that night, I'd sure as hell be praying.  I also applaud the President's mettle in ordering the attack; it was justified.  We live in a fallen world, and sometimes good people only have flawed options.  THis is much different than people planning an unsuspecting attack on thousands of innocent human beings in midtown Manhattan on a clear fall day; I have a read a lof moral equivalence (to put it nicely).  We should keep in mind the realities we are dealing with.

More importantly, we as Catholics, I believe, are called upon to CHALLENGE this culture of "take-no-enemies" political rhetoric.  Too often we engage in the WORST of it.  Some of the things people (I assume all practicing, informed Catholics) write on here about other PEOPLE is amazing.  We should stick to ARGUMENTS, not attack people.

Finally, the notion that OBL was "assassinated" is  total myth.   See No. 8 below:

http://www.juancole.com/2011/05/top-ten-myths-about-bin-ladens-death.html
Paul Kurtin | 5/4/2011 - 1:08am
Sorry about the misspelled Nuremberg.

Paul Kurtin | 5/3/2011 - 11:38pm
Rosary beads notwithstanding, this photo documents the reactions of those in the administration who supported infiltrating another country without their knowledge to carry out an assassination in the name of justice.  They are watching the death of their target.  As reprehensible as their crimes were, even Hitler’s collaborators in the holocaust had their day in court in Neurenburg.  Is this how the US now carries out “justice”?  I fear that we may be losing our souls over more than abortion in this country.
ed gleason | 5/3/2011 - 10:54pm
Wow!!! I hear you guys.. so you will not be voting for Obama/Biden in 2012.  We get it, so no need to keep telling us.
Thomas Piatak | 5/3/2011 - 10:44pm
I agree with Maria Byrd.
david power | 5/3/2011 - 8:44pm
Tom,

I am really and truly digging your cynicism ,but miracles happen .
If I was in his shoes   and had lived through what he had lived through i think 
that the cosmic would enter the narrative very quickly . Fulton Sheen spoke of many great men who fumbled with a rosary in their time.If Pascal and Pasteur can do so  why not Biden??
Biden is more cathlolic than Weigel , Gringich and Santorum could even dream of being  .
False piety?I got a masterclass on Sunday.But Biden?No ,this guy can safely leave his rosary at home .He has reached the end of the line in political terms.


It was Biden who noted that the real deal was in Pakistan.Obama and all Americans should be proud to have men like Biden on the team.
French toast? Great example but many catholics ,including me,carry their rosary to big ocassions.

I would love to hear your response, as I loved your first statemeent.      
Tom Maher | 5/3/2011 - 8:00pm
The statement in today's NY Times "Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. fingered his rosary beads."  is not credible.  The picture does not show any such thing happening.  Realistically it is very unlikely that in the middle of a historic event a seasoned and hardened politician like Joe Biden would "finger his rosary beads."especially while being photographed and voideotaped.  This is made up fiction to further dramatize the event and manipulate gullible and suggestable Catholics fictionalzing what really happened.

It is unfortunate that the author of this article hold up this fictional NY Times account as authentic.  This is a classic overdone Hollywood group mobilization effort on the part of the NY Timesx reporters to gain more  Caholics support for the strike against bin Laden.  Catholics do not need be manipulated.  The President's actions  are understood, supported and praised by Catholics on their merits.  As Commander and Chief he has acted boldly, decisively, and very effectively.  No phony group appeal or identity politics ploy is needed.  Such fakery by the NY Times reporters is an insult to Catholics.  Catholics are no longer the huddled masses waiting for instructions from elites on how to act or think.  If Catholics are to be appealed to in a news article let it be on the rational merits and not ficitonal accounts of outlandish piety in the middle of a serious military action taht require the full attention of all participating leaders including the Vice President.  

This piety is the same false piety of a person seeing a religious image in their French toast at breakfast.  It makes Caholics look like fools and this is not a ture representation of what Catholics are or should be about. 
ed gleason | 5/3/2011 - 12:25pm
 They were watching and listening to a live feed of the actual landing and deployment of the Seals.the close ups of faces are even more revealing .That pic will be the  iconic picture of how decisions at the highest levels effect the participants. The next years  candidates will have to show how they can do that and assemble such a team.. a bar far higher than any on the horizon can get to.
david power | 5/3/2011 - 6:23pm
Joe Biden is my favourite catholic in public office.
He has many failings but has a consistent knack of representing his inner faith in greater moments.
I am glad that the rosary beads were there, grace can be found in all situations.  
He has a conscience and has a humanity that will probably only be recognzed when he is dead.

How many catholics are literally holding on by the beads?