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Mike Pence Says Catholicism Is 'An Eternal Foundation in My Life'

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast on Tuesday morning, Vice President Mike Pence revealed his Roman Catholic confirmation name. His choice of that name tells a great deal about Pence's nationalism as an American.

"I was not only baptized in the church but I was confirmed, and I stand before you today as Michael Richard Christopher Pence," the vice president declared. "Christopher" comes from the Latin and means "Christ-bearer," but it also likely refers to Christopher Columbus, the man widely credited with discovering the Americas.

At the prayer breakfast, Pence spoke about his Roman Catholic roots, but he also emphasized the deep history of Roman Catholicism in America.

The vice president quoted Proverbs 22:6, declaring, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." This was a rather ironic verse choice for the man who might be the most famous ex-Roman Catholic in America. Pence famously rejected Catholicism to become an evangelical Protestant in college.

Nevertheless, Pence described his Catholic upbringing as "an eternal foundation in my life." He described his history with a dash of humor that resonated well with the mostly Catholic audience.

"I did eight years of hard time at Catholic school — the name of Sister Rachel still sends a shiver down my spine," Pence quipped. "Honestly, I was the beneficiary of an extraordinary Catholic education," which he said "continues to serve and inform me every day."

The vice president told a funny anecdote about growing up in a "medium-sized" Catholic family. "Being one of four boys was very convenient for Father Gleeson," Pence joked, as the priest could call up his father at any time and "have a full team of altar boys ready for any Mass."

"While my own faith journey has taken me and my family in a different faith direction, I want you all to know how much I cherish my Catholic upbringing and cherish the church," Pence added. "In fact, I just attended mass with my mom this weekend when we were in Chicago with family."

The vice president said that he grew up "with a front row seat in the Catholic faith," which gave him "a deep appreciation for the church's rich contributions to the fabric of American life." Here his faith history and his patriotism combined.

"The truth is, Catholicism is woven deep into that fabric, it gives America a vitality and vibrancy that inspires," he said. Pence noted that "even from the hour of our nation's birth, the Catholic church was there." He mentioned Charles Carroll of Carrollton, Maryland — the last signer of the Declaration of Independence to pass away. (Bradley Birzer at Hillsdale College wrote a wonderful book about Carroll entitled American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll.)