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HomeArticleFaith inspires many at CPAC, including numerous Catholic speakers

Faith inspires many at CPAC, including numerous Catholic speakers

Faith inspires many at CPAC, including numerous Catholic speakers

Supporters of former US President and 2024 presidential hopeful Donald Trump attend the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland, on February 24, 2024. / Credit: Mandel NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

 

By Tyler Arnold

CNA Newsroom, Feb 24, 2024 / 21:58 pm (CNA).

Faith-based convictions were highlighted by numerous Catholic and other Christian participants at the 2024 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), held just outside Washington, D.C. this past week.

An annual gathering of some of the most prominent conservatives in the United States and around the world, this year’s edition of CPAC took place from Feb. 21 through Feb. 24.

The conference’s agenda included opportunities for both Mass and Protestant services, a screening of the film “Cabrini” — about the life of St. Frances Cabrini, the first Catholic saint from the United States — as well as panels on a biblical understanding of gender and how to respond to efforts to push Christianity out of the public square.

“The question is what moral code are we going to live by,” former Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, a Catholic, said during a panel titled “The Bible Uncancelled” on Saturday.

“The left has their own woke code that they change depending on what power dynamics are in place to help them control people,” Santorum added. “Whereas conservatives historically have said, no, … the moral code by which our country is going to live will be a biblically based one.”

Santorum warned that many in our society have “replaced the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob [with] the God of Self,” noting that this breakdown has caused “all of this depravity and confusion and depression and anxiety” among young people in the country.

During an earlier panel titled “Genesis 1:27”, pushing back on gender ideology, Terry Schilling, a Catholic father of six who serves as president of the American Principles Project, warned against the growing threat to parental rights and religious freedom for parents who refuse to go along with or facilitate the “gender transition” of their minor children.

Parents, he warned, are being punished “for protecting their children from this [transgender] industry that will quite literally chew them up and spit them out with destroyed bodies.”

The faith was also directly referenced by speakers on panels that were not explicitly religious in nature.

Eduardo Verástegui, a Catholic actor who starred in the anti-child sex trafficking film “Sound of Freedom,” discussed the faith component in his activism.

“I’m asking God and Our Lady of Guadalupe to help me,” Verástegui told the crowd to resounding cheers.

This expression of faith comes at a time when church affiliation in the United States has fallen and hostility toward traditional Christian views on controversial subjects has been on the rise.

Santorum, in his panel discussion, noted that he has faced hostility for his faith-based views for a long time.

“It’s OK,” he said. “God did not say ‘pick up your box of candies and follow me.’ He said ‘pick up your cross daily and follow me’ and we all need to do that.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland, who was removed from his post as Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas last year, did not speak at the conference’s main event, but did give remarks at the Ronald Reagan dinner on Friday night.

Other Catholics who spoke at the conference included Ohio U.S. Senator J.D. Vance and political activist Jack Posobiec, along with Matt and Mercedes Schlapp, the husband and wife duo who lead the American Conservative Union, the parent organization of CPAC.

Former president and current Republican candidate Donald Trump also spoke at CPAC. The former president focused his remarks on other domestic and foreign policy issues, including the economy and immigration.

Trump’s speech at CPAC took place on the same day he trounced his sole remaining rival for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination in the South Carolina primary.

The Associated Press called the election for Trump shortly after the polls closed on Saturday evening, with the former president projected to defeat the former South Carolina governor in her home state by  more than 20 percentage points.

With over three quarters of the results in from the Palmetto State at 9:45 p.m. ET on Saturday evening, the AP projection was holding up, with Trump at 60% and Haley at 39%.

 

 

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