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Julian Castro discusses his Catholic background as he launches presidential bid


Gage Skidmore | CC BY SA 3.0

John Burger - published on 02/18/19 - updated on 02/18/19

Grandson of Mexican immigrant shares views on what he likes and disagrees with about Church teaching.

Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro went into detail about his Catholic background in an interview he gave to Religion News Service. RNS reporter Jack Jenkins asked Castro about why the former mayor of San Antonio and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development chose to announce his candidacy in San Antonio’s Plaza Guadalupe, across from Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church.

Castro on January 12 became one of nine Democrats who have joined the 2020 presidential race so far.

“I had my announcement at the heart of the west side of San Antonio, where I grew up,” Castro, 44, said. “The Our Lady of Guadalupe Church was really where my story started on the west side of the city, because I was baptized there, I grew up not far from there and went to school close to there.

“I wanted my announcement to present to the American people who I am, and my family and I had been Catholic for generations,” he said. “I can’t say that I go to church as much as I’d like, but I grew up Catholic, got married in the Catholic Church. My children have been baptized in the Catholic Church and my son currently goes to a Catholic learning center that my daughter previously went to. So it’s been a part of our lives. … The Catholic faith has never been far from my life.”

The grandson of a Mexican immigrant, Castro lauded the Catholic Church for being “a refuge for a generation of Mexican immigrants who came to places like Texas and lived a tough life.”

“What has always attracted me to the Catholic faith is the social justice aspect of it, and the vision that I articulated for the country (in my announcement speech) very much is in keeping with the social justice component of the Catholic faith, of caring for the poor, of understanding that everybody counts in our society, of trying to do what all of us can to sacrifice together so that we can lift everybody up,” Castro said.

However, in a laundry list of issues that will be central to his campaign, he commented in the speech, “We can protect women’s rights to make her own decisions about her body because, for women, access to reproductive healthcare IS an economic issue.”

Challenged as to how he can reconcile his support for legal abortion and same-sex marriage, Castro told the interviewer: “I separate any one faith or belief system from the responsibility that one has in public service—to represent everyone. I recognize that I do have those disagreements (with the pope), but I also recognize that if I’m president of the United States I need to serve everybody in the country.

“And I also have just a personal belief in support of members of the LGBTQ community — I believe in their equality — and also support a woman’s right to choose. I believe that those things are sound public policy,” he opined.

Asked about the immigration policies of President Donald J. Trump, Castro said he has been “pleased to hear Pope Francis speak out against those kinds of policies. His is an important voice.”

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