Robert F. Kennedy Jr. talks Catholic faith, abortion, Title IX in exclusive EWTN interview — By: Catholic News Agency

Kennedy opened up to veteran EWTN News anchorman Raymond Arroyo about his family’s strong faith growing up, how his faith helped him overcome drug addiction and how it impacts him in his day-to-day life in the travails of U.S. presidential politics. / Credit: EWTN News “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo” / Screenshot

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Apr 26, 2024 / 06:30 am (CNA).

Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. discussed the importance of his Catholic faith in his daily life, his plan to reduce abortions without federal restrictions, and his opposition to biological males playing in women’s sports during an exclusive interview on “The World Over with Raymond Arroyo” Thursday night.

Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of former President John F. Kennedy, is running a vigorous independent campaign to be the next president of the United States. He launched an independent bid for the White House last October after initially challenging incumbent President Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination.

In the interview, the presidential hopeful opened up about his family’s strong faith growing up, how his faith helped him overcome drug addiction, and how it impacts him in his day-to-day life.

“The centerpiece of our lives [growing up] was Catholicism,” Kennedy told Arroyo.

“We said the rosary at least once a day, oftentimes three times a day,” Kennedy said. “We prayed before and after every [meal]. We read the Bible every night. We read the lives of the saints. We went to church, sometimes twice a day. We would go to the 7 o’clock Mass and 8 o’clock Mass in the summers. It was our whole family, and it was really our whole community. It was part of me growing up.”

At age 15, following his father’s assassination, Kennedy expressed that he struggled with his faith. He became addicted to drugs, including heroin, until he was 28 years old.

“During that period of time, I wouldn’t say I lost my faith, but when you’re living against conscience, which you have to do if you’re addicted to drugs, you push God out over the periphery of your horizon,” Kennedy said. “So the concept of God was, although it never was erased from me, it was just a distant concept that was not part of my day-to-day life.”

He credits “a profound spiritual realignment” for his recovery from addiction in early adulthood, which he said has been “the centerpiece of my life ever since.” 

“I had a spiritual awakening very early in my recovery, which I was lucky about because I no longer had to struggle with the compulsion to take drugs,” Kennedy explained. “That was lifted away from me. But you can’t live off the laurels of a spiritual awakening. You have to renew it every day, and you renew it through service to other people.”

He said his faith gives him peace in the midst of the storms of life and cited his favorite saints, specifically St. Francis and St. Augustine.

Reducing abortions without federal restrictions

On the issue of abortion, Kennedy said his family has been divided on the issue and that he does not see himself as a “doctrinaire on either side.”

Kennedy said he disagrees with former President Donald Trump’s plan to leave abortion policies up to the states. Although he acknowledged that “every abortion is a tragedy,” he said decisions “should be up to the mother” and that he does not “trust government officials and bureaucrats” to be involved in the issue.

Rather than implementing restrictions on abortion, Kennedy has proposed a plan to subsidize day care “to make sure that no American mother ever has an abortion of a child that she wants to bring to term because she’s worried about her financial capacity to raise that child.”

“I would like to maximize choice but also minimize the number of abortions that occur every year,” Kennedy said.

The presidential hopeful also said he would not reverse the Biden administration’s approval of expanding access to the abortion pill in stores like CVS and Walgreens. However, he added that “we ought to know what the side effects are, what the risks are, [and] what the benefits [are].”

Opposing biological males in women’s sports

Kennedy said he disagrees with the Biden administration’s recent change to Title IX, which interprets sex discrimination as including discrimination of “gender identity.”

He is opposed to biological males who identify as women being allowed to participate in women’s sports. “I don’t think it’s fair if a boy can walk off a neighboring playing field and say, I’m a girl now, and I’m going to take that spot that you worked for,” the candidate said. “I think we all need to respect people who have sexual differences and protect them, but I don’t believe that people who were born men ought to be able to compete in consequential sports.”

The 2024 presidential election

At this juncture, Kennedy is polling well behind Biden and Trump but has stronger poll numbers than any independent or third-party candidate since Ross Perot in 1992. A compilation of polls from RealClearPolling currently puts him at just under 12%. 

“All we need to do is to get to 33% to win the election,” Kennedy said in the interview. “You don’t need 50%. It’s a three-way race. It’s really a five-way race. All I need is to get to 33%, and I’m close to that in a bunch of states.”

The election is on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

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