WASHINGTON — A newly declared presidential candidate told a crowd of conservative Christians that his Christian faith is at the “center” of his life as he highlighted his personal experience with the pro-life movement and the faith community's role in reducing his city’s homeless population.
Francis Suarez, the mayor of Miami, Florida, was one of several Republican presidential candidates to address the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference Friday. After expressing support for the pro-life cause, Suarez outlined his personal experience with the pro-life movement.
“I am literally a product of the pro-life movement myself,” he said. “My parents actually met at a pro-life rally.”
Suarez explained that his parents “have bravely lived their pro-life ethic by raising a family of four,” consisting of himself and his three sisters. He told the audience that “my parents and the difficulties of my own life taught me that faith must be at the center of our lives and that faith in Jesus Christ is the center of my life.”
“I can tell you without hesitation that the most important part of my day is the time that I spend with Jesus. It’s the relationship that shapes all other relationships, that allowed me to find and marry the love of my life, Gloria, who is here with me today,” Suarez added.
Suarez credited his faith with helping him form his “commitment to the culture of life from its inception until its end.” Noting that “many people claim to be pro-life,” he insisted that “you’re not pro-life until you’re truly tested.”
“In my case, my wife and I were tested at the challenge of infertility,” he recalled. “We struggled with infertility for four years. We accepted the possibility that we would not feel the joys of parenthood, that our only children may be the forgotten children of my city.”
Suarez described waking up on Father’s Day 2013 to discover his wife repeatedly screaming, “I don’t know if it’s true!” After opening the door, she proclaimed in “a hysterical voice, ‘If it’s true, it’s going to be your first Father’s Day,’” celebrating that they had successfully conceived a child.
“There are moments in life where God’s intervention is so powerful, so tangible, and this was one of the many moments for me,” he said. “My immediate family has also been inspired by the power of the pro-life witness of family.”
Suarez told the story of one of his sisters, whom he characterized as one of his “heroes,” discovering that her newly conceived fourth child “would be born with a genetic deficiency, which would severely handicap her throughout her life and undoubtedly increase the burden on an already large family.”
In what he referred to as “one of the most incredible acts of faith and courage I have ever witnessed,” Suarez’s sister elected to go through with the pregnancy and named the child Gianna. “She taught all of us how to truly live our faith. Her faith was so great that she even went on to have a fifth child,” he said.
Suarez delivered a message to his niece on stage: “Gianna, I went to tell you today your parents love you, I love you, God loves you.”
Later in his remarks, Suarez discussed how he witnessed a home invasion as a child, where he witnessed his mother and grandmother held at gunpoint. While the home invasion left him “scared and scarred,” the future mayor’s life was transformed after meeting Father Pat Angelucci, who taught him how to “be reborn in Christ.”
Angelucci also instilled in Suarez that “my faith needed to be the bedrock of my strength and self-worth.”
Suarez added, “He taught me that we find God when we focus on the least, the last, the lost.” Throughout his speech, Suarez touted his record as mayor of Miami, specifically highlighting the dramatic reduction of the homeless population in the city from 6,000 to 608.
Vowing that “we will not stop until we get to zero,” he credited churches and faith-based organizations with helping to solve the homelessness problem in Miami: “We did it by applying Christian values and by joining hands with churches across the city and faith-based organizations, like Hermanos de la Calle, who have taken over 1,000 people off the streets and placed them in permanent housing.”
As he concluded his address, Suarez proclaimed, “In today’s America, we need to lead with loving truth in a world of soft lies,” he continued. “We need Christians who speak clearly and calmly in a time of confusion and despair, and we need Christians who lead and who love courageously, even to those who persecute us and prosecute us.”
“Our country is bruised and battered right now, but our faith is strong. Our values are under relentless attack, but our faith is strong. We face oppression and persecution, but our faith is strong. And all of us here today, I promise you, have been attacked, but our faith is strong.”
Additionally, Suarez expressed gratitude to the audience for “keeping the faith” and “keeping us strong” as well as “keeping America one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
Suarez, who was first elected mayor of Florida’s second-largest city in 2017, announced that he was seeking the Republican nomination for president last week.
Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org