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Biden visits Guadalupe shrine, speaks of mother’s devotion

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Catholic News Service

MEXICO CITY — Vice President Joe Biden prayed at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe while visiting Mexico City and later told reporters he would have stopped at the shrine even if he had no official business in the Mexican capital.

Biden visited after meeting with Mexican politicians and political candidates March 5. He knelt before an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe and later spoke of his mother’s devotion to Mary.

“She impressed upon her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that they must seek the intersession of the Blessed Mother, and I regret that she is not here with us,” the newspaper Reforma reported Biden said of his mother.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden looks at an image of St. Juan Diego as he tours the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City March 5. Biden prayed at the basilica and spoke of his mother's devotion to Mary after meetings with the contenders in Mexico's July 1 presidential elections. (CNS/Reuters)

Mexican media outlets reported Msgr. Enrique Glennie, rector of the basilica, showed Biden around the site in the northern part of Mexico City, where Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531.

Religion and politics often intersect in polemic ways south of the border, but Biden would have none of it, rebuffing questions about his meetings earlier in the day with the three main presidential candidates for the July 1 election. He also met with President Felipe Calderon.

“I would prefer not to speak of the candidates,” Biden said. “I had a great day with the candidates, but I’ve had a better day here.

“I would have come if there were nothing but this.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe is Mexico’s patroness and has been cited as an inspiration for the independence and social movements.

One candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who narrowly lost the 2006 election, named his political movement MORENA, or dark-skinned lady — a common reference to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Mexican politicians previously avoided public appearances at the basilica due to the country’s secular ethos and strict separation of church and state, but former President Vicente Fox and Calderon have gone to the sanctuary.

Foreign politicians have showed more enthusiasm for visiting the site, however.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited in 2009, while Republican candidate John McCain visited during a pre-campaign swing through Mexico City in 2008.

Daniel Ortega fulfilled a campaign promise to visit the basilica after winning the Nicaraguan presidency in 2007.