As Pope Francis arrives in the U.S. for his first visit, Jeb Bush is touting endorsements from three former U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See.
The three -- who all served under George W. Bush -- will serve as national co-chairs of Catholics for Jeb, his campaign says. They are Harvard Law School professor Mary Ann Glendon, Oklahoma businessman Francis Rooney, and former VA Secretary and RNC Chairman James Nicholson.
The website Crux, which covers “all things Catholic,” notes that the three, along with two other former envoys to the Vatican – the late Thomas Melady, who served under the first President Bush, and former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn, a Democrat who served under President Bill Clinton – endorsed Mitt Romney in 2012, both for the Republican nomination and eventually for the presidency.
The Republican presidential hopeful, who converted to Catholicism, and his wife, Columba, who was raised Catholic, will attend the Mass led by Pope Francis Wednesday at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. At his brother’s invite, Bush led the U.S. delegation to Pope Benedict XVI's inaugural Mass in 2005.
In a CNN column marking Francis’s arrival in the U.S., Bush said since the conversion, the church “has given me the faith and hope to cope with life's many challenges.”
He wrote that he hoped Francis’s visit would serve as a “powerful reminder that in a country as great and diverse as ours, we can protect religious freedom and the right of conscience while respecting those with opposing views.”
Bush largely agrees with the church on abortion and other issues, but has voiced concern about Francis’ call for action on climate change, telling a New Hampshire crowd before the encyclical was released that “I think religion ought to be about making us better as people, less about things that end up getting into the political realm.”