Pence addresses religious freedom at National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

IMAGE: CNS photo/Bob Roller

By Josephine von Dohlen

(CNS) — Vice President Mike Pence and other speakers addressed securing
religious liberty and protecting the sanctity of human life both in the United
States and worldwide, particularly in the Middle East, at the 13th annual
National Catholic Prayer Breakfast in Washington June 6.

spoke about President Donald Trump’s commitment to the securing of all
religious freedoms to over 1,200 attendees, following speeches by keynote
speaker Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, head of the U.S. Archdiocese for the
Military Services, and special guest Mother Olga of the Sacred Heart.

expressed his sorrow over the recent terrorist attacks in Europe, reassuring those
in attendance that the president is committed to ending attacks on religious
liberty around the world, as well as in America.

has made an indelible mark on the American spirit,” Pence said. “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. All the great American Catholics gathered here, let me
assure you this morning, bright and early, at this prayer breakfast: American
Catholics have an ally in President Donald Trump.”

vice president, an evangelical, shared fond memories of growing up in a Catholic
family, saying that he was honored to speak at the breakfast and that his
mother would be proud.

honestly feels like coming home to me,” Pence said.

2004, Catholics have gathered in the nation’s capital to come together to pray
for the country and hear from religious and political leaders. The founding board, with leaders such as former
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pennsylvania, intended to answer to St. John Paul II’s
call to new evangelization for all Catholics.

Carl Anderson, supreme knight of
the Knights of Columbus, spoke of the common ground that the Vatican and the
president found in Trump’s recent meeting, particularly in their
dedication to pro-life and religious freedom issues, as well as the protection
of Christians in the Middle East. 

Anderson introduced Pence by
recalling what Pence said while speaking at the March for Life in Washington
back in January.  “Let this movement be known for love, not anger, for
compassion, not confrontation,” Pence said at the March for Life. “To heal
our land and restore a culture of life we must continue to be a movement that
embraces all and cares for all out of respect for the dignity and worth of
every person.” 

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville of Washington opened the breakfast calling for
solidarity in prayer for the Christians in the Middle East, after he read a special
note from Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, who was unable to attend.

us also be mindful of so many of our brothers and sisters around the world who
continue to face persecution and suffering on account of their faith,” Bishop Dorsonville
read from Cardinal Wuerl’s message. “As our Holy Father, Pope Francis, ‘We must
not resign ourselves to thinking of a Middle East without Christians who for 2,000
years have confessed the name of Jesus and have been fully integrated as
citizens into the social cultural and religious life of the nations to which
they belong.'”

Broglio was the keynote speaker at the breakfast. Recalling the spirit of
service displayed by so many men and women gone before us, he told the story of
a military chaplain, Father Joseph Lafleur of Louisiana, who gave his life
while saving others on a prison ship.

we were to survey the history of the church, and look at the lives of the
saints, we would discover men and women who built on their virtues, to reflect
the authenticity of their faith. The same thing has an impact on the nation,” Archbishop
Broglio said. “To quote a respected cardinal, ‘A good Catholic is a good American
because the practice of virtue also leads to good citizenship and there is no
dichotomy between faith and life if we cultivate and practice virtue.’ Each of
us has the potential to rebuild our society and our world if we cultivate
authentic virtue.”

went on to call Catholics to return to lives of virtue, both acting rightly and
giving of themselves to others.

build for a new tomorrow when we draw from that wellspring of virtue,” Archbishop
Broglio said.

Olga of the Sacred Heart, founder of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth, also spoke
as a special guest. Mother Olga spoke of her love for God and her love for
others, which drives all that she does, specifically her service in America
through missions and her founding of the Daughters of Mary Nazareth back in

and raised in Iraq, Mother Olga’s love for America led to her becoming an
American citizen.

in America we take pride in our democracy,” Mother Olga said. “The true democracy
and the strength of our democracy should not only be seen as an expression of
the political minds of the people, but also in our embrace of our own identity
as Americans and appreciation of the religious roots of our foundation of a

said that it is out of love that she is committed to the United States and
those who serve the country.

our gathering today as people who love God and this country be a renewed
commitment to renew the spirit of cooperation which has accomplished so much
good through the history of our nation,” Mother Olga said. “May the fruit of
today’s prayer for our nation be a grace for our people to experience a new
birth of freedom, freedom planted with faith, grounded in hope, nourished by
love in the soil of truth.”

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