By Emily Drooby
“I will always defend the sacred right to life” — a strong statement coming from President Donald Trump on Sept. 23 as he announced a new executive order that’s a win for the pro-life movement.
“I will be signing the Born Alive executive order to ensure that all precious babies born alive, no matter their circumstances, receive the medical care they deserve,” he said during the sixteenth annual National Catholic Prayer Breakfast.
“This is our moral duty.”
Details on the executive order weren’t immediately available but it will protect babies born prematurely, including those who survive an abortion. It will also increase federal funding for neonatal research.
“The eternal truth that every child, born and unborn is made in the holy image of God,” said President Trump during the announcement.
The president also took a moment to applaud the Catholic Church for their charity and generosity towards others. He specifically mentioned that he saw this while growing up next to a church. Based off of Trump’s childhood home, that’s likely a church in the Diocese of Brooklyn — Immaculate Conception Church in Jamaica Estates, Queens.
“I saw how much incredible work the Catholic Church did for our community. These are amazing people, these are great, great people,” he said.
Also during the event, Attorney General William Barr was awarded the Christifideles Laici award. It is given to someone who increases the tenets and teachings of the Catholic Church.
Barr, who is Catholic, used his speech to defend religion’s role in America.
“Separation of Church and state does not mean and never did mean separation of religion and civics.”
Attorney General Barr himself came under fire for being given the award.
Many people and organizations of faith such as the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests have voiced concern over Barr receiving the honor, as he recently directed the Federal Bureau of Prisons to execute prisoners on death row for the first time since 2003.
During his acceptance speech, Barr did not address the critics.
The keynote address was given by Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. During it, he compared American founder Thomas Jefferson and St. Junípero Serra.
Serra founded Catholic missions in California, and the toppling of statues has made the saint a recent source of controversy. Some critics have called him a colonialist of Native Americans.
“Jefferson could say the things he said because at least to some degree, he had been evangelized. To some degree, he had heard the good news,” said Barron.
He added that what Jefferson said on the East Coast of the country, Serra was doing on the West Coast.
He also encouraged Catholics to bring their faith into the public forum.
“Resist the temptation to privatize the faith, but rather bring your evangelized self into the public forum,” said Auxiliary Bishop Barron, adding that a privatized religion is bad for both religion and democracy.