Mike Pence tells Catholics at prayer breakfast they have an ally in President Trump

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gestures as he speaks during the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast June 6 in Washington. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) U.S. Vice President Mike Pence gestures as he speaks during the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast June 6 in Washington. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

With intertwined Vatican and U.S. flags hanging behind him, Vice President Mike Pence addressed D.C. Catholics this morning, pledging federal support for shared interests and extolling Trump administration initiatives that he said promote religious freedom and protect human life.

“Catholicism has made an indelible mark on the American spirit,” Mr. Pence said at the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. “Your faith has moved mountains, and the Catholic Church and its millions of parishioners have been a force for good in our communities large and small throughout our land, throughout our history.”

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Mr. Pence, who was raised Catholic but who is now an evangelical Christian, highlighted three priorities in his speech—religious liberty at home, Christian persecution around the world and abortion—and said to applause, “American Catholics have an ally in President Donald Trump.”

Almost entirely absent from Mr. Pence’s remarks were three issues Catholic leaders consistently raise as priorities in the United States: strengthening the social safety net, environmental protection and immigration. (Mr. Pence did recall parts of the U.S. church’s history, which, he noted, included “waves of Catholic immigrants, like my grandfather, [from] places like Ireland, from Italy, from Germany, indeed from across the wider world, drawn here by the promise of freedom, of opportunity, of prosperity, and...a freedom to practice their faith that is the birthright of every American.”)

Vice President Mike Pence: “American Catholics have an ally in President Donald Trump.”

The Trump administration has faced fierce criticism from many Catholic leaders over plans to limit refugee resettlement and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border and for championing a budget that would slash federal programs that serve the poor.

During his roughly 25-minute address, the vice president said that Mr. Trump’s meeting with Pope Francis last month was “lengthy and meaningful,” and he said the pair agreed to work together on the three issues that Mr. Pence highlighted during his speech. (The White House and Vatican statements about the Vatican meeting differed slightly; the Holy See noted that aid to immigrants was discussed while the White House omitted that part.)

The vice president focused on areas where the administration’s policy goals align with Catholic priorities and said that the Trump administration has already taken important steps to protect religious freedom and the sanctity of human life.

The vice president focused on areas where the administration’s policy goals align with Catholic priorities.

For example, he noted that the president signed an executive order last month that the administration says began a process of bringing relief to religious organizations that object to portions of the Affordable Care Act and instructs the federal government not to penalize religious organizations that violate I.R.S. rules against partisan politicking.

“No American should have to violate their conscience to fully participate in American life,” Mr. Pence said on Tuesday morning. “President Trump will continue to fight to ensure that every American has the freedom to follow the dictates of their conscience and add their voices and their values to the beautiful tapestry of America’s national life.”

Some bishops were supportive of Mr. Trump’s executive order, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who were on hand to celebrate at the White House last month. Last week, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore praised a leaked draft of new regulations stemming from the executive order, calling them “years overdue.”

“Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority of this administration.”

Mr. Pence asked the crowd to applaud members of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of nuns who sued the Obama administration over a federal mandate requiring employers to provide contraception insurance. Leaders from the religious order were also on hand at the White House signing ceremony last month.

Regarding the persecution of Christians around the world, Mr. Pence said, “Christianity faces unprecedented threats in the land where it was given birth and an exodus unrivaled since the days of Moses.”

He said the Trump administration “is fully committed to bringing relief and comfort to believers in that ancient land” and considers the terrorist group ISIS to be guilty of genocide.

“Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority of this administration,” he said, tying the issue to what he called “the cancer of terrorism,” which he promised the Trump administration would “drive from the face of the earth.”

“I couldn’t be more proud to serve as vice president to a president who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life.”

On life issues, Mr. Pence stuck largely to abortion, telling the friendly crowd, “I couldn’t be more proud to serve as vice president to a president who stands without apology for the sanctity of human life.” He cited as examples Mr. Trump’s decision to expand the so-called Mexico City Policy, which prohibits federal funding of abortion overseas as well as his own tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate to allow states to defund Planned Parenthood.

“President Donald Trump stands with the men and women who stand for the sanctity of human life in America, and he always will,” he said.

Organizers of the event, which began in 2004 and serves as something of a Catholic supplement to the National Prayer Breakfast, had extended an invitation to Mr. Trump. The president spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in February.

According to the Catholic Prayer Breakfast’s website, several Republican political leaders have spoken at the event in the past, including a number of appearances by former President George W. Bush. Just one Democrat appears among previous speakers, the former Congressman Bart Stupak, a pro-life Democrat from Michigan. The founder of the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast, Joseph Cella, was an early supporter of Mr. Trump and helped organize Catholic support for the G.O.P. nominee.

In addition to Mr. Pence, other speakers at Tuesday’s event included Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who heads the archdiocese serving the U.S. military, and Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart, the founder and mother servant of Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, who has worked on interfaith peace efforts in Iraq.

This story will be updated.

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J. Calpezzo
5 months 3 weeks ago

Why the softball interview? Why not ask him why he ditched the Catholic church?

Charlotte Bloebaum
5 months 2 weeks ago

Exactly

Dominic Deus
5 months 3 weeks ago

Dominic Deus here.

Some allies are not worth having. Association with them stains the moral fabric of one's humanity.

I cannot declare pedophiles my allies, nor bullies, hucksters, confidence men, liars, cheats, swindlers, homophobes, Islamaphobes, sexists, misogynists, American Nazis, and those who claim sexual assault on women as manly virtue.

In addition, I attribute no merit to willful ignorance or the white Christian persecution complex, the Westboro Baptist Church, National Security Advisor Steve Bannon or Breitbart in general.

I could on go but I will simply end with this: Vice President Mike Pence is a pillar of honesty, virtue and intellect--compared to his boss. By any other standard, he is a mediocrity or less.

None of these people are my allies nor do I wish them to be. My moral fabric has its own stains created by my hand and I own them but I avoid moving in circles that soil me with the effluvia* of these others.

--Dominic

*Effuvia:an unpleasant, noxious or harmful oder, secretion or discharge.
This is a *great* word for our times. It just reeks of staining, stinking and (ugh) secreting.

In keeping with the posting guidelines, I offer this in charity to those whom I have villfied: It's never too late to buy a Stain Stick.

Mike Evans
5 months 3 weeks ago

Don't you feel safer now? Forget all the other deplorable actions: on the environment, on 23 million losing health coverage, on a tax plan that gives only to the rich. Pence is a loyal tool but not an apt apologist for Catholic values.

Rudolph Koser
5 months 3 weeks ago

There was a time not so long ago that inviting a fall-away Catholic to such an event would have been forbidden due to scandal. I guess as long as you are anti-abortion everything is OK. I don't use the term pro-life because this man is abominable on so many life issues that he can hardly be called pro-life or friendly to Catholic moral and life positions. Where do you start? Suffice it to say I am scandalized and disappointed again in the leadership of our Church.

James MacGregor
5 months 3 weeks ago

RE: "ditched the Catholic church?"
Isn't he a Christian? I believe that he is.
"ditched the Catholic church?" sounds like divisive, unChristian polemic.

Rudolph Koser
5 months 3 weeks ago

To be clear I don't know where this man stands in God's eyes, but measured against the teaching of the Gospels it's very difficult to call Pence a Christian especially in his treatment of the marginalized and the "other."

James MacGregor
5 months 2 weeks ago

R: "his treatment of the marginalized and the "other."
What is the standard that you recommend that we use for judging him?

Rudolph Koser
5 months 2 weeks ago

Easy Matt chapter 25.

KATHERIN MARSH
5 months 3 weeks ago

Regarding the Vice Presidents statement that President Trump's initiatives promote religious freedom: No. The President's initiatives do not promote religious freedom; quite the contrary.
As a first example: Look at this President's position on the Johnson Amendment. (See Washington Post, Feb. 2, 2017.) This President wants religious leaders to be able to take to the pulpit and support a particular political candidate with impunity. This initiative is the top of a slippery slope to ending freedom of religion. Johnson amendment says that if a representative of a religion stands at their pulpit and campaigns for one or the other political candidate, that entity loses its 501 (c) (3) status. Which means it is no longer able to be a Nonprofit Entity. This is a good thing for enduring religious freedom. Why? Because religious freedom is about worship and passion for God, not for a political candidate. Religions become political parties and not religion when profitability is tied to political postures, and destroying the Johnson Amendment will do this.

Lisa Weber
5 months 2 weeks ago

Mike Pence is apparently sane, which makes him look wonderful next to Donald Trump. Compared to people I might consider admirable, he is petty, narrow-minded, and has a world view that I would not call Christian. I am not impressed with the moves toward "religious freedom" that we are supposed to admire. Overall, I am disgusted that Catholic leaders cozy up to this abominable administration.

Charlotte Bloebaum
5 months 2 weeks ago

Donald Trump & his crew will do nothing for Catholics or anyone else. Abortion is not the only right to life issue we have. Immigrants, perpetual war, what about those lives that he is threatening daily? Please stopn trying to make these evil people look good. Destroying our planet also thwarts right to life. This article is more lies being spewed by this administration.

Charlotte Bloebaum
5 months 2 weeks ago

Donald Trump & his crew will do nothing for Catholics or anyone else. Abortion is not the only right to life issue we have. Immigrants, perpetual war, what about those lives that he is threatening daily? Please stopn trying to make these evil people look good. Destroying our planet also thwarts right to life. This article is more lies being spewed by this administration.

THOMAS Heyman
5 months 2 weeks ago

How can America issue drivel like this without commentary on the hypocrisy of this man, who as governor of Indiana and now as spokesperson for the Trump administration's many anti-Christian policies is speaking to a "Catholic" prayer breakfast. By having him address them, these people are hypocrites lending support for his many anti- Christian policies.

Lee Ho
5 months 2 weeks ago

As a lapsed Catholic, Mike Pence is still a far better catholic than Tim Kaine and various other cafeteria "Catholics" (so-called) on the left.

Dr. Stella Maris, MD
5 months 2 weeks ago

Vice President Mike Pence would make a wonderful President. In the event something were to happen to President Trump, God forbid, VP Pence would be glorious.

Prayers for VP Pence and President Trump, and all of our elected leaders!

Dr. Stella Maris, MD

Vincent Gaglione
5 months 2 weeks ago

The Bishops of the United States, in their pursuit of selective main goals such as “religious freedom,” a nationwide ban on abortions, and public tuition support to parochial schools, seeing the potential of such during the Trump years, have been essentially silent and non-belligerent in their opposition to a number of Trump initiatives that are contrary to Catholic social teachings. Immigrants, refugees, the poor, the working class, the environment, economic justice, racial and ethnic equality - all have become minor and secondary issues on the national Catholic agenda because the Bishops do not want to thwart the achievement of their goals.

The lionization of Pence by the Catholic “right,” essentially Trump supporters, typified by this invitation to the Catholic prayer breakfast, is one such result and an example of the Bishops’ generous attitude toward the Trump administration. As was written in my parish bulletin last week, “The 'Catechism of the Catholic Church' treats sins against the faith in the section on the 1st Commandment. Sins against the First Commandment are apostasy, casting off the faith, and heresy picking and choosing belief based on one’s own authority.” If I understand the statement clearly, the invitation to Pence, someone who cast off the faith, and his selective approach to aligning the current administration’s policies with Catholic teachings, gives me pause about the Catholics who lionized him!

My prediction is that, in the immediate future, our pews will be emptier because subsequent generations will realize that the Catholic Church of the United States sold its soul for a mess of pottage. Ultimately and hopefully, the only saving grace will be the appointment of Bishops who steer the Church to a less politically narrow and submissive role, long after the demise of most of us reading what I write!

Stuart Meisenzahl
5 months 1 week ago

Vince
This sounds like your version of that famous 2015 Hillary Clinton line: ....."deep seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed".
So the choice for the Bishops was between Pence the lapsed catholic heretic or Clinton , posting her own "96 Thesis" on the Washington National Cathedral door? What a choice indeed!
Apparently in your view "there are so many heretics and so little time"......perhaps another "Hundred Years War" ??

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