Pelosi Remarks at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast


Washington, D.C. – House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi joined Congressional and faith leaders at the National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.  Below are the Leader’s remarks:

Leader Pelosi.  Good morning, everyone!

Audience.  Good morning!

Leader Pelosi.  See you’re out there in the morning, very vocal!  Lovely to hear your voices and see you through the light here.  Through the light.  That’s how we like to see things and Esperanza with the light shining on it.

I thank you, Reverend [Luis] Cortés, for your introduction, for your leadership and for welcoming me, once again.  I’ve been here over and over again as Speaker and as Leader, and I’m honored to be here once again to pray with you this morning.

Congratulations to this morning’s honorees – and thank you for using your voices and vision to advance more hopeful futures for all.

Andrea Barela, Mercedes Fuentes, Rev. Wendy Calderón, Carlos Loso Bedoya and Luis Palau.

All those names adding up to something wonderful for our country.  Thank you, and congratulations!

It is an honor to return to this breakfast and to join distinguished members of the clergy, lay leaders, colleagues and friends, as we give thanks for the many blessings that God has bestowed on America.  I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to sit in fellowship with you, as we seek guidance from each other and as we seek guidance together from God.

Under the stewardship of Reverend Cortés, Esperanza has become a transformative force for the common good.

The patron saint of my city of San Francisco, which I represent in Congress, our patron saint, St. Francis of Assisi, his anthem song of St. Francis is the city’s anthem.  ‘Make me a channel of thy peace,’ many of you may know that.

But St. Francis also said, ‘Preach the gospel, and sometimes use words.’  And that is what Esperanza does: to spread the gospel by your good works in honoring the Gospel of Matthew, meeting the needs of the least of our brethren.  To advance equality of opportunity through education and economic empowerment.  To strengthen Hispanic communities by connecting clergy, young people, women and the entire Latino community in word and deed.  And to inspire hope – esperanza.

When people ask, where is hope, I say that hope – you’ll find hope where you always would find it, it’s sitting right there in its usual place, right there between faith and charity.  People draw hope because they have faith in the goodness, the charity of others.

We have to remember how those three virtues go together.

Today, those obligations are not always honored.  I’ll be very direct with you this morning because I have some very serious concerns about some of the attitudes that are finding voice in our country.

Cruelty and callousness by some have supplanted compassion towards our nation’s immigrants.  The sanctity of family that is at the heart of our nation and its ideals is under attack.  From the senseless end to DACA and the elimination of Temporary Protected Status for hundreds of thousands of law-abiding immigrants, to the barbaric and unacceptable policy of ripping children from their parents at the border.  Barbaric – it’s not American, it’s not faith-based.

[Applause]

To the deportation dragnet that is being thrown over our cities, splitting apart families.  We must have a call to action.  People of faith must weigh in.

All of our presidents in the lifetime of some of you but, in recent history, all of our presidents have had a strong regard and respect for the value of immigration to our country: President Ronald Reagan, President George Herbert Walker Bush, President Clinton, President George W. Bush, President Obama.  This is the first time in recent history where we have had a president who does not respect the dignity and worth of every person coming into our country, the recognition that immigration is the constant reinvigoration of America.When newcomers come to America, their hopes and dreams and aspirations and optimism and courage to make the future better for their children – those are American dreams.  Those immigrants – they make America more American and we must respect that.

[Applause]

America has always been a nation of immigrants, enriched and blessed by each wave of newcomers to our shores.  We truly believe, as people of faith, that we are all God’s children, that we are all worthy of dignity and respect, that there is a spark of divinity that exists within each and every one of us and that spark of divinity must be respected, and we recognize our own spark of divinity, and have the responsibility to treat people as all God’s children.

When, in our Mass in the Catholic faith, during the mass, when we observe that Christ came down from heaven and became man, that’s a sacred moment in the Mass, he came down from heaven and became man.  Christ’s participation in our humanity enabled us to participate in his divinity.

[Applause]

That spark of divinity demands that we, as people of faith, act upon our beliefs, our respect for every person – not animals, not inhuman, but children of God.

Immigrants keep faith in America’s promise of opportunity and we must keep faith with them by respecting, again, I will say it again, the dignity and worth of every person.  We must reject language that calls them animals.

So this is a call to action.  This is a challenge to the conscience of America.  And it’s a challenge to each and every one of us.  In the face of these assaults on immigrants, we need our faith leaders to pray, advocate and transform and that is what Esperanza is all about.

More than ever, we need you to know your purpose and bring your moral power and the power of your congregations and communities to make the American Dream a reality for everyone.

Let us pray to build an America that honors the creed of our Founders.  They gave us great direction.  They said that we are entitled to certain rights from God and they gave us guidance.

Three words: ‘E Pluribus Unum’, from many, one.  They couldn’t have possibly imagined how many we would have become or how different we could be from each other but they knew that we had to be one and that unifying principle is the strength of America.

And so while we may want to respect the differences of opinion that we may have, and that’s healthy, we must reject language that does not respect the dignity of every person.

[Applause]

So I thank you.  I thank you for being a people of a faith and being the unified goodness of America, kindness of America and as the presentation of the beautiful music showed, the love of America.

On behalf of Members of Congress, I especially speak for the House Democrats but I think all Members of Congress would join in welcoming you for this important meeting.  I feel blessed that you are coming together, sharing thoughts, inspiring each other and therefore inspiring the rest of us because you are about the most transformative virtue of all, hope, esperanza.  Hope springs again from the First Commandment, love, and all of it is based on faith.

So thank you for being people of faith.  Thank you for being the forces of goodness, kindness and love in community centers that you are.  Thank you for unifying America.  Thank you for embodying the values of our Founders: ‘E Pluribus Unum.’

God bless you.  God bless America.  Thank you.

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