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Boehner Talks Catholic Faith, Pope in Sunday Interview

Image: Boehner Talks Catholic Faith, Pope in Sunday Interview
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By    |   Monday, 13 Jul 2015 03:35 PM

House Speaker John Boehner talked about his Catholic faith during a television appearance Sunday.

Boehner was a guest on the CBS' "Face the Nation" and told host John Dickerson he is proud of bringing Pope Francis to Congress for a speech in September and that he prays every day.

"About 20 years ago, I offered my first invitation to a Pope, and over the years, three different times, I've attempted to get the Pope to come and address a joint session of Congress," said Boehner, who joined the House in 1991. "We've never had a Pope come, and I'm really happy that the Pope has accepted my invitation. For a kid who grew up going to Mass every morning, this is a pretty humbling experience."

When asked about his faith, Boehner said it's a big part of his life.

"Well, I have a very deep faith," Boehner said. "I have my conversations with the Lord. They start in the morning early, and they go on all day long. You can't do this job by yourself.

"It's helpful all the time, all the time."

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Boehner generally shies away from talking too much about his faith, but Dickerson brought up a speech Boehner gave at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. In that 2011 commencement address, Boehner spoke of his faith in God and how it shaped him.

"Just two Sundays ago, I attended Mass here at the Basilica," Boehner told the graduates and their families. "Looking up, pondering the power and the glory of the Blessed Mother, I felt the tug of a memory … one from before Xavier."

Boehner then told a story about his high school football playing days at Moeller High School under coach Gerry Faust, who went on to coach at Notre Dame and the University of Akron.

"For [Faust], there was no distinction between the spiritual life in the church and the physical grind of the football field," Boehner said. "He made no bones about it. He would tell us in no uncertain terms that life is a precious gift from God, and therefore making the most of one's life is a direct form of devotion to the Virgin Mary.

"He'd have the whole team kneel down and pray the Hail Mary before every meeting, every practice, and every game. Then we'd go out and smash heads with the other team for four quarters … all in the name of the Blessed Mother. That gives you an idea of the kind of guy Coach Faust was, and still is. And it was the basis for a lesson he taught us, one I've been repeating ever since: 'There's nothing in life you can't achieve if you're willing to work hard enough and make the sacrifices necessary to succeed.'"

Boehner also discussed how he fell out of the Republican Party's leadership ranks in 1998, only to see his colleagues vote him back in eight years later as majority leader.

"The morning of the leadership elections in 2006, I went to 7 a.m. Mass, and the question kept tugging at me: Am I sure I want to do this? Am I ready?" Boehner recalled.

"I struggled with this in my mind, asking the Blessed Mother for her guidance. Finding no answers. Then, after having breakfast, my cellphone rang. It was a number I vaguely recognized. I picked it up. It was Coach Faust. Calling to wish me luck and tell me he knew I could do it.

"Now I've never gotten a phone call from the Blessed Mother, and I don't expect I ever will. But I gotta tell you, that was pretty darned close."

During Sunday's "Face the Nation" appearance, Boehner also talked about Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, Democrat Hillary Clinton, and other topics.

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House Speaker John Boehner talked about his Catholic faith during a television appearance Sunday.
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