After an hour long meeting with Pope Francis Jan. 24, Vice President Mike Pence sat down with EWTN News to discuss their conversation. Here is CNA's transcript of that interview:
EWTN News: Mr. Vice President, you spent about an hour with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, today and what did you discuss?
Pence: Well, it was a great privilege for me to spend time with Pope Francis and to be able to do so on a day that literally hundreds of thousands of Americans, including many Catholic Americans, are gathered on our National Mall in Washington D.C. standing up for the right to life, was a particular joy for me. And to hear his passion for the sanctity of life, and to hear the American Bishops were coming to him this month and speaking about their determination to see the Church in the United States continue as it has always done to stand without apology for the sanctity of human life. It was a great privilege.
EWTN News: How can the U.S. government work together with the Holy See in the entire world to promote the sanctity of life and work against abortion and also euthanasia?
Pence: Well, I believe that the Church in the U.S. has been a bulwark in the right to life movement since Roe v Wade was first adopted by our Supreme Court in 1973. In fact, on the National Mall today, among those hundreds of thousands of young people, will be an enormous number of Catholic youth.
They will be waving their banners of their parishes, they’ll be waving the banners of their Catholic schools, and I think continuing to educate young people about the unalienable right to life, and the fact that every child is a gift from God has been the contribution that the Church has made to this cause, and the truth is in the U.S. we see more young people everyday embracing the right to life. The numbers are growing.
I know the Church is playing a critical role in that and I know will continue to until we reach that day that we restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law and will carry that message throughout the world.
EWTN News: You’ve personally been involved with many Marches for Life now, Mr. Vice President. Why have you taken this on as your sort of personal campaign as well?
Pence: Well, for my wife and me to stand for life in the public square is a calling. It’s a calling of our convictions, it’s a calling of our faith. We think it is the most pressing moral issue of our time.
And throughout our years in congress, and as Governor, and now as Vice President, I’ve sought to stand for the right to life and to stand with all of those who cherish the unborn.
But I have to tell you, I couldn’t be more proud to be Vice President to the most Pro-Life president in American history. As we gather here in Rome today, President Trump will go to the National Mall and be the first American president to ever address the March for Life in person. And that’s no real surprise when you see President Trump’s record for life, whether it be ending the Mexico City Policy, ending the providing funding for organizations that promote or support abortion around the world, defunding the largest abortion provider in America, or appointing principled conservatives to our courts.
One step after another, President Donald Trump has stood consistently for the right to life, and I expect the warm reception that he’ll get today from those hundreds of thousands of people gathered on our National Mall will reflect the fact that people all across America know in President Donald Trump they have a champion for life.
EWTN News: Going back to your meeting with Pope Francis today, did you speak about the tensions between the United States and Iran? He has spoken about this and has invited both parties to dialogue.
Pence: Today in my discussions with Pope Francis, we spoke about a number of issues, including the Pope’s great concern for Christian and religious minorities in Iraq and across the Nineveh Plain. I told the Pope that we are very proud to work with many Catholic charities as we work to rebuild Christian communities that were so set upon through ISIS and terrorist action in the region in recent years.
We’ve really partnered with the Knights of Columbus and other organizations across the region to make it possible for those Christian communities to come back and to have vibrant communities, not only Christian, but Yazidi communities, and the Pope shared with me his great passion for [the issue of] religious persecution and for religious minorities across the Middle East. We also then talked about Venezuela.
Pope Francis is a son of South America, and I wanted to better understand his insight about how we can together work as a global community to help restore democracy for the people of Venezuela. As I stand here today, the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro has impoverished their country, nearly 5 million people have fled Venezuela to neighboring countries, the poverty and deprivation there in what was once one of the wealthiest countries in our hemisphere is tragedy.
I sought Pope Francis’ counsel about how we can work more closely with him and with the Church in Venezuela and across South and Central America to really continue to bring the kind of pressure to bear from the ground up that will make it possible for the people of Venezuela to have a new birth of freedom. The reality is that the National Assembly has named Juan Guaidó now more than a year ago as the interim president, and democracy is waiting in the wings in Venezuela, but it will take all of us and I trust the consistent and courageous voice of the Church in Venezuela to see liberty restored.
EWTN News: You said yesterday in Israel that you invited states to stand together against this rise of anti-Semitism worldwide. Pope Francis has often spoken out against anti-Semitism...
Pence: He has.
EWTN News:... as well. How do you see that the US and Europe and the world can take concrete steps forward against anti-Semitism?
Pence: Well, first it’s so important that we remember the past, so as not to relive it in the future. And yesterday in Jerusalem, it was my great privilege to be there as we mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and to see nearly 60 world leaders come together to mark what was not only the darkest chapter in human history but to really...to mark a triumph of freedom 75 years ago was deeply moving. But what was equally impressive was the universal call by all those present to condemn anti-Semitism in all of its forms.
And the truth is that we are seeing vile anti-Semitism rear its head in both rhetoric and violence across the world.
We’ve seen synagogues attacked in the United States of America, Jewish communities attacked around the world, and we believe as we said yesterday that it’s imperative that leaders around the world and in the faith community and in the public sphere condemn anti-Semitism without reservation every time it emerges. And also in the midst of that that we stand together against the leading state purveyor of anti-Semitism on the planet: the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Iran actually today, as a state position denies the Holocaust ever happened or routinely says that its aim is to wipe Israel off the map. It’s important, particularly in the light of our action against Iran and a military leader just a month ago that the world continue to isolate Iran economically and diplomatically, and President Trump is going to continue to lead that charge.
We cannot allow the leading state sponsor of terrorism with so much enmity toward Israel to ever have a nuclear weapon, and we will continue to stand strong, and we will continue to work to bring the world community together, but stopping anti-Semitism wherever it emerges must be a priority of every nation in the world, and we need only to look to that dark chapter 75 years ago to know how dangerous anti-Semitism is and how it is a moral imperative in this century to see to it that it is condemned and rejected wherever it’s expressed.
EWTN News: Thank you so much, Mr. Vice President.
Pence: Thank you.