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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Jeb Bush on how the Catholic Faith Changed His Life...

It's rare in today's politically divisive environment to find a politician, who openly professes his faith and is not afraid of living it, especially when it conflicts with the popular culture.

It's easy in politics to keep religious views personal, considering we are constantly hearing about the “separation of church and state,” regardless of whether the Founding Fathers failed to mention it in the Constitution or whether the gist of Thomas Jefferson’s use of the phrase was meant to say that the government would never infringe on religious expression or conscience.      

It was fifty-five-years ago this month (September 1960) that Catholic presidential candidate, John F. Kennedy, who was raising concerns because of his religion, made a promise to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association, a group of Protestant ministers, which said, “I believe in a president whose religious views are his own private affairs,” and that he would never be influenced by his faith in determining public policy, setting the precedent by which every presidential candidate since has followed. 

So, it was refreshing, when a friend sent me an article published this morning on CNN’s web page, to see that former Florida Governor, GOP Presidential Candidate and current parishioner at our church in Coral Gables, Jeb Bush, was proclaiming his faith proudly.

On the eve of Pope Francis' visit to the United States, which will include stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia, Bush writes about how the Catholic faith changed his life
"After I lost my first campaign for governor of Florida in 1994, I took stock of my life and my beliefs, and I decided to fully embrace the faith that had been guiding my family and me for many years. I attended Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults classes. I gained a deeper appreciation for the sacraments of the church and the grace they impart. I studied Catholic Church doctrine, and how it is renewed in every age. The more I learned, the more I appreciated the rich history of the church and its teachings, and my heart was changed by God's hand.
In the 20 years since my conversion, the church has given me the faith and hope to cope with life's many challenges." 
He continues: 
"I have witnessed the power of God, through his church, to touch lives and transform the world -- both on the world stage and in my own heart. The church has grounded me and my beliefs in a deep way of thinking about mercy, penance and the dignity and potential of every life, young and old, rich and poor, born and not yet born.
The power of that Catholic faith can be seen today, not only in the crowds that will greet Pope Francis in the coming days, but in the millions of men and women who heal the sick, comfort the lonely, work for peace and feed the hungry. It is a faith that touches heart and mind, and it brings comfort to all who listen to its message of hope. And it is a faith that I am proud to call my own."

Not long ago, one of our parish priests told me that Mr. Bush asked for a private meeting with our church's three priests to have them explain Pope Francis' latest encyclical, Laudato Si, which has been hailed by some but criticized by others, including many Catholics.

Regardless of where one stands politically, to me, that shows a man who takes his faith seriously; whose faith is part of who he is and not a private social group he belongs to.  It also demonstrates a strong desire to lead by his convictions and not be influenced by opinion polls or the popular culture...

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