President George W. Bush recently attended the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast where he said that America is founded on the values of faith and family that enrich the country, adding that this is at the heart of the Hispanic American community, whose "good works and reverence" bring compassion, and "honor to the Almighty."
The President's attendance is the third such appearance at prayer breakfasts in the last three weeks. He recently hosted the National Day of prayer at the White house, and attended the national Catholic Prayer breakfast.
"In America, people of faith have no corner on compassion, but people of faith need compassion to be true to the call "Ame al projimo como a sí mismo," love your neighbor like you'd like to be loved yourself. That's a universal call.
Thursday's prayer breakfast was the fourth edition of the event, which was organized by Esperanza USA, a Philadelphia-based network of Hispanic Christians. It's founder, the Rev. Luis Cortés, is one of Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Evangelicals. President Bush is also the first president to attend the prayer breakfast, now in its fourth year.
In the speech he referred to the family as a "source of joy and the foundation of a hopeful society" for Hispanic Americans. He said his administration was working to "defend the sanctity of marriage" and "ensure that the most vulnerable Americans are welcomed in life and protected in love."
The president also commended Hispanic faith based and community organizations "that work daily to bring hope to harsh places."
Bush thanked the León de Judá Congregation, which mentors inner-city teens; Acción Social Comunitaria in St. Louis, which helps immigrants adapt to life in the U.S.; Catholic Charities in Miami who ministers to people with HIV/AIDS; and an inner-city program in Philadelphia run by Rev. Cortés.
He also noted that Hispanics "understand that freedom is a divine gift that carries with it serious responsibilities," after telling a story about an immigrant from Mexico named Rafael Peralta who joined the Marines immediately after becoming a resident. He died by using his body to cover an enemy grenade to protect fellow soldiers.
In attendance were several members of Congress, whom the president thanked for their presence, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi who quoted several Bible verses in a speech that included the historical and continuing importance of immigrants in the nation as well as the importance of "personally held-faith of millions to leads to great acts of conscience, charity, and community."