Vice President Mike Pence spoke during the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday morning, proclaiming that President Donald Trump knows “terrorism is an existential threat to people of faith across the globe” — and he pledged to keep on fighting it.
“Terrorist groups seek to stamp out all religions that are not their own, or not their version of their own, and believers of many backgrounds have suffered grievously at their hands,” Pence said. “And we acknowledge all of that loss and suffering.”
But the vice-president added that he believes “practitioners of terror harbor a special hatred for the followers of Christ,” saying that this is particularly true when it comes to ISIS.
Pence said that the terrorist group’s “savagery” is “unseen in the Middle East since the Middle Ages” and that the group has committed genocide. He then proceeded to recount some of the recent horrors that ISIS has aimed at Middle Eastern Christians:
In Egypt, we have just recently seen Coptic Christians martyred on their way to a monastery, bombs exploded in churches amidst Palm Sunday celebrations — a day of hope transformed into a day of pain and suffering.
In Iraq, we see ancient churches demolished, priests and monks beheaded, and the two-millennia-old Christian tradition in Mosul virtually extinguished.
In Syria, we see Christian communities burned to the ground, women and children sold into the most terrible form of slavery. Christianity faces unprecedented threats in the land where it was given birth and an exodus unrivaled since the days of Moses.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of meeting with courageous leaders of the Syrian Catholic Church, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Chaldean Catholic Church. I heard one story after another from them about the horrors that their parishioners face on a daily basis. But I also heard their resolve. I heard a bishop speak about returning to his home parish in Mosul and celebrating Easter Sunday. He said, there’s no roof on the church. The walls are falling down. But the anthems of faith rose. It had to be a glorious service.
Pence said that the Trump administration seeks to bring peace and relief to the Middle East and that U.S. leaders will continue to condemn acts of violence and persecution of any faith, while touting religious freedom across the globe.
Watch the address below:
The vice-president initially opened the speech by condemning the terror attacks that took place in London over the weekend, expressing sadness over the loss of life.
“As the President said two nights ago, this bloodshed must end and this bloodshed will end,” he said.
Pence praised the Catholic faith for its deeply embedded roots in American history and culture and said that the denomination also helped set him on the right path in his own life.
“While my own faith journey has taken me and my family in a different direction, I want you all to know how much I cherish my Catholic upbringing and cherish the church,” he added.
Read the speech in its entirety here.