Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Jennifer Hartline

9/18/2011 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

This week I had the great honor of interviewing the woman I hope will be the First Lady in 2013

Karen Santorum is warm, gracious, completely genuine, down-to-earth, immensely likable, and filled with a spirit of love.  She and her husband, Senator Rick Santorum, both possess the inner strength, courage, and faith that are born of a deep love for Christ.  It's time Catholic voters started paying close attention to this dynamic couple.

The Santorum family

The Santorum family

Highlights

By Jennifer Hartline

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

9/18/2011 (4 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Rick Santorum, Karen Santorum, Presidency, campaign, 2012 election, Republican candidates, Pro-Life, Pro-Family, Jennifer Hartline


WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - This week I had the great honor of interviewing the woman I hope will be the First Lady in 2013.  As I picked up the phone to call her, my nerves were jumping and I was praying she wouldn't notice.  After just a minute of talking with her, it felt as relaxed as having coffee and dessert with a good friend.  Karen Santorum is warm, gracious, completely genuine, down-to-earth, immensely likable, and filled with a spirit of love.

We spoke at length about everything from campaign life to family life to faith and trials, and the serious concerns she has about the direction our nation is headed.  She is highly motivated to fight for our country alongside her husband, Senator Rick Santorum, and believe me, she's got the steel for it.

The Campaign

What struck me the most was the distinct lack of ego in their decision to run for President.  For them, it's not about Rick trying to win something for himself - it's about preserving a nation for their children and simply following the road God has laid in front of them.

JH:  How did you and Rick come to the decision to run for President?

KS:  We're doing this because we truly believe God is leading, and we have to be faithful.  We spent more than a year praying about this, talking with our friends, our families, our spiritual advisors, and our children.  It was a long process of talking it out, and we all had some real reservations.  I had no desire at all to jump back into the political arena.  We were in that life for 17 years and now I had a different vision for my family.  Our kids all had their own thoughts and concerns, too.  The boys wanted their Dad to continue coaching their baseball team, for instance.  They weren't too sure they wanted to share their Dad with the whole country.  It's a real sacrifice for them.

Rick and I both said that if even one of the children had said they didn't want Dad doing this, we absolutely would not have done it.  But they are behind their Dad all the way, and the whole process is teaching them a lot about the way our political process works and how a President is elected.  We're very protective of our family time when Rick is able to be home these days, and we maximize that time together.  No one is allowed to intrude!

To be honest, Rick had no desire to run until Obamacare.  That was the final straw for him, the line in the sand.  Something has to be done.  That law will change our country fundamentally forever, and as parents of a special-needs child we knew that they would be the first to be denied care under Obamacare.  Rick and I can't stand on the sidelines and allow Obama to bring our nation to its knees.  We knew we had to get in and fight.

But ultimately, we are just trusting God and praying for His will to be done.  He could end this tomorrow and we'd be at peace with it.  It could be God's will that Rick just has a voice in the mix; it could be God's will that he get to the Caucus and he's not the guy; or it could be His will that Rick is the guy.  Trust and be faithful is all any of us can do.

JH: What are the unique gifts and strengths that Rick brings to the table to solve our nation's biggest challenges?

KS:  Most important, he's rock-solid.  Rick is rooted in his faith and has a solid foundation.  You get what you see.  He walks the walk.  He's someone who goes after the issues with such a passion.  Preserving marriage, the sanctity of Life; these are things we really have to roll up our sleeves and fight for.  He's also brilliant in matters of the economy and national security.  He has a mind for history and facts and numbers.  There's no doubt in my mind he'll be a great leader to this nation.

JH: Why should Catholics vote for Rick Santorum?

KS: He's a devout Catholic who lives his faith, is very prayerful and will always stay grounded.  He's a loving, devoted, faithful husband and father.  It's one thing to take the pro-life stance and another thing to fight for it and yet another thing to live it.  Rick lives it every day.

Catholics in America need to understand the critical importance of their votes in 2012.  Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were both elected because they won the Catholic vote.  That is not to our credit!  I see America right now literally poised on the edge of a cliff, and Catholics will decide whether the nation goes over the edge or gets pulled back.  We have a huge responsibility.

Life with Bella

Here is where Karen's heart and passion come shining through.  Here is also where the mama bear's claws come out.  In 2008, Rick and Karen welcomed little Isabella to their family.  Just four days after her birth, they got the devastating news that Bella has Trisomy 18, a rare and usually fatal genetic disease.  Since that moment, they have intensely battled our culture of death, protecting their daughter from being euthanized and fighting for her medical care.  Most doctors urge women to abort babies with genetic diseases, and many such infants are euthanized after birth in order to "relieve their suffering."

Listen to Karen talk about Bella, and you'll hear one word over and over:  blessing.  Rick and Karen want the whole world to know the joy they've found in their sweet angel.

KS:  After having Bella I had to relearn how to live my life.  Now I'm a blessed mother of a special-needs child.  Since her birth, I've learned that God truly has a reason for everything.  Like every one of us, God has a purpose for her.  Bella has made all of us grow in our faith like never before, made us more virtuous and shown us God's love and mercy.  Her life is a very happy and joyful life.  Bella is an angel.  I truly believe I am in the care of a saint.

We are so blessed to be her parents and her family.  Yes, there's also a painful side of the journey because you're fighting for her life, to have her treated with the same dignity as every other child.

JH:  What would you say to those facing the possibility of a child with Trisomy 18 and wondering whether they can handle it?  Maybe a woman tempted to abort a baby she is convinced will only know suffering?

KS:  It doesn't make any sense to me that we choose death over love.  You never lose with love.  It's never made any sense that when a doctor says your child has whatever defect, he then says "let's kill the baby."  If the doctor said that about your five year-old you'd be outraged!  As parents we're wired to do everything possible to save our child.  Why does that not apply to these sweet babies in the womb who need our love and care?  Just simply bring your child into the world and love your child.  You don't know what God has planned.

Bella is the greatest "burden" I've ever had.  I wouldn't trade the blessings that have come with her for anything in the world.

JH:  Is it safe to say that special-needs children and their parents will have a fierce advocate in the White House under President Santorum?

KS:  Oh, absolutely!  I have a real fire in the belly about this issue.  It's heartbreaking what these families go through.  I was a NICU nurse for years and I thought I understood, but in fact, I was clueless.  Now I know; now I get it.  Until you're in it every day, you just don't know.

I'm on a mission to get every obstetrician and geneticist in the country to change the way they think and especially the way they talk about genetic diseases like Trisomy 18.  When a doctor says your child has a "lethal diagnosis" that is "incompatible with life" - those words are toxic.  Those words lead to death.  Doctors need to stop saying those words.

I can't tell you how many battles we've fought with doctors who wouldn't even call Bella by her name.  These children are denied the dignity they deserve as human beings. Parents should not have to fight for their children to receive medical care.  This is why it's critical that we get rid of Obamacare.  Special-needs kids will be seen as lives not worth living and they'll be the first to go.

We're grateful that Bella now has a good team of doctors who take great care of her and she's doing great!  I love Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  Other hospitals we've been to didn't even want to try to give Bella the care or help she needed - she wasn't worth it to them.  At CHP, their philosophy is, "Just give the babies a chance."  Amen!

JH:  Years before Bella was born, you and Rick experienced a "crisis pregnancy" and you lost your son, Gabriel.*  Again, you battled the culture of death.  It was the same time Rick was fighting in the U.S. Senate to pass the Partial-birth Abortion Ban.  You were living exactly the scenario the abortion peddlers point to as proof that we "need" abortion.

KS:  Before Gabriel we always had picture-perfect pregnancies.  Then to have a baby with a fatal defect - that's how the doctors say it - right at the time of the Partial-birth abortion debate, that was no coincidence.   God blessed us with the gift of "why." As though He said, "Here's why I'm doing this."  We saw the fruits of our son's life and the significance of it.

Before Gabriel, I thought I was pretty strong and could handle just about any cross.  Any cross except the death of a child or a sick child, I told the Lord.  Don't give me those!  But I've gotten both!  Our crosses come in all shapes and sizes, but we're better because of them.  All you can do is embrace the cross God gave you and thank Him for it, because there's definitely a reason.  Even in the worst times God's light shines through and He is working.

Family, Faith and Church

Karen dreams of getting 8 hours of sleep someday.  For now, she's up by 0600 and doesn't quit til midnight.

JH:  How do you juggle all the demands of the campaign and family life and still keep your sanity?

KS:  It's not easy.   It's a cross to do without Rick at home these days.  He's on the battlefield right now fighting the battles God wants him to fight.  The only way I get through it is daily mass and keeping my prayer life in order.  Daily mass, prayer time, family rosary; these things give you strength and I notice a real difference.  I know if I'm not there I won't be able to walk this walk.

JH:  Any advice on passing the Faith on to our children?  What have you and Rick done that's worked well?

KS:  It's a work in progress!  They're not going to get the Faith if you don't live it.  Live it with a lot of love.  If you talk, but don't live it, or maybe there's anger, they're not going to get it.  You have to live it.  The family rosary has been a beautiful thing for our family.  It's the time we can all come together again and you're praying, and offering your prayers for so many other people. 
The most important thing is, do it with love.  Always with love, never with force.  You just can't teach the Faith without the love of Christ.  It has to be infused with love.

JH: Why be Catholic in 2011?  Isn't the Church outdated and full of criminals?

KS:  God's truth never changes.  No matter how modern we get or where we are technologically, God's truth is the same throughout the ages.  We can still be pure in the middle of a modern world!   The terrible betrayals and disgusting scandals have served to prove one thing:  God is in charge.  Despite the sin and failings of men over the centuries, God is still in control and we're still here.  We are human and we're going to fail and make terrible mistakes, but God is leading His Church.  We can never forget His love and mercy.

~~~~~~~~

As I finish writing this, the Church is celebrating the feast of the Triumph of the Cross.  My time with Karen left me keenly aware that I'd met a woman who knows the Cross intimately.  She knows the suffering and the pain, yet she is radiant with hope, overflowing with Love.  She understands that embracing and carrying our cross always leads to triumph.  Her strength and faith are, quite bluntly, awe-inspiring.  It is abundantly clear that Rick is forged by that same fire, and possesses the strength and courage born of a deep love of Christ and His cross.  That, folks, is a house built on rock.

That's the stuff great leaders are made of.

* I highly recommend Karen's book, Letters to Gabriel, which chronicles the entire story of little Gabriel's life and death.

-----

Jennifer Hartline is a grateful Catholic, a proud Army wife and homeschooling mother of three.  She is a contributing writer for Catholic Online.  Visit her online at Wake Up, Deborah! and MCH.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More U.S.

No Catholic or other Christian Should Support the Candidacy of Bernie Sanders Watch

Image of Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Presidency of the United States of America, denies the fundamental Human Right to Life of children in the womb.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Legalized abortion on demand is an open rejection of the entire ethic of being our brothers (and sisters) keeper. There can be no enduring lasting solidarity upon which to build a secure future in a culture that kills its own children and calls it a right. No ... continue reading


Mardi Gras' several names and traditions: How is it celebrated around the world? Watch

Image of Mardi Gras is famous for its colors, masks, beads, food, floats and more (Pixabay)!

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

People around the world celebrate Fat Tuesday each year with regional traditions - but did you know it is a celebration with roots in Christianity?  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Fat Tuesday" is English for the French "Mardi Gras," and is traditionally ... continue reading


7 Fun facts about Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras celebrations Watch

Image of Mardi Gras first became a holiday in 1582.

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday; it comes directly before Ash Wednesday. "Mardi Gras is a raucous celebratory affair that serves as a final shebang before the 40-day abstinence of Lent," explains The Huffington Post. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Amidst all ... continue reading


605,000 undocumented immigrants to receive driver's licenses in California Watch

Image of California driver's licenses do not bestow any federal benefits to the recipient. State sources say the law is intended to make California roadways safer.

By Catholic Online (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Thanks to a new California law known as AB60, which took effect on January 2, 2015, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV has handed out 605,000 driver's licenses to undocumented workers. It is estimated that 1.4 million migrants will receive licenses under ... continue reading


Center for Medical Progress releases another Planned Parenthood video despite injunction Watch

Image of Pro-life CMP stands against abortionists NAF (imgsuccess).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

After ousting illegal actions performed by Planned Parenthood clinics, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), and its founder Daniel Daleiden, have been ordered to cease further distribution of illegally-obtained Planned Parenthood footage. Unfortunately for the ... continue reading


Huff Po Gestapo, beats down Trump, First Amendment with editorial billy club Watch

Image of Huffington Post has found a way to turn the First Amendment into a billy club for their PC police duties.

By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Liberal mouthpiece, The Huffington Post (not to be confused with an actual news organization) is pandering to liberal readers by posting an addendum at the end of every story about Donald Trump. The addendum labels Trump a "racist" and a "serial liar." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Lower Your Nets For a Catch! We Are All Called to Evangelize Watch

Image of Lower your nets for a catch

By Deacon Keith Fournier

The New Evangelization is meant to bring about an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can then undertake a new missionary outreach to the whole world. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical ... continue reading


'Church ladies' finally force phony priest in Los Angeles to authorities Watch

Image of Erwin Mena  was arrested by Los Angeles police for allegedly impersonating a Roman Catholic priest and on suspicion of grand theft (Los Angeles Times).

By Mary Rezac, CNA/EWTN News

For months, Erwin Mena donned vestments, called himself "Padre," and convinced Southern California Catholics that he was a priest, police say. Los Angeles, Calif. (CNA/EWTN News) - He was good at it, too, reportedly. He attended seminary in El Salvador for a time ... continue reading


Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis to Meet in Cuba in Historic Move of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of Orthodox Christian Patriarch Kirill and Catholic Christian Pope Francis

By Deacon Keith Fournier

This meeting of the Primates of the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church, after a long preparation, will be the first in history and will mark an important stage in relations between the two Churches. The Holy See and the Moscow Patriarchate hope that ... continue reading


'Deeply disturbing': ANOTHER Planned Parenthood video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress (Warning: Graphic Content) Watch

Image of Yet another undercover video featuring the horrors of Planned Parenthood's illegal acts has been released (Leda Oreskovich).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released another video featuring Planned Parenthood officials casually - and even happily - discussing the revolting practice of murdering infants in the womb then mercilessly cutting them to pieces for profit. Meanwhile, after ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey
  • St. Scholastica: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • 10 important things to consider during Lent
  • Stations of the Cross - Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother HD Video
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, February 10, 2016
  • Palm Sunday HD Video
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?

Daily Readings

Reading 1, First Kings 8:22-23, 27-30
22 Then, in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel, Solomon stood ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 84:3, 4, 5, 10, 11
3 Even the sparrow has found a home, the swallow a nest to place its ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 7:1-13
1 The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 9th, 2016 Image

St. Apollonia
February 9: St. Apollonia, who died in the year 249, was ... Read More