Jeb Bush’s Catholic Conversion

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (photo credit: Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Most voters aren’t really aware: Jeb Bush is a Roman Catholic convert. Raised Protestant, Bush converted 20 years after he married his Catholic wife, Columba, who he met in 1971 while teaching English in Leon, Mexico — they were married in February, 1974.

Some might have the attitude that Jeb Bush just went along with becoming Catholic to marry the woman he loved, but that is not the case. He’s become a serious and informed Catholic, as Michael Paulson describes in a New York Times article published yesterday, whose faith has guided his political career and led him to his involvement in the effort to save Terri Schaivo from being taken off life support by her husband.

As Paulson writes, “He even, during his first year in office in 1999, signed a law creating a “Choose Life” license plate.” Oh, my!

Paulson gives a mention of Jeb Bush’s position on the death penalty, which has softened considerably, but fairly adds that Bush’s position on immigration is consistent with the push by the U.S. Bishops to pass reform.

All three Bush children were raised Catholic, and their father regularly attended Mass with the family before entering the Church formally in 1995. Paulson reports that it was Bush’s defeat in the Florida governor’s race in 1994 that contributed to his final decision to embrace the Catholic faith.

Paulson concludes his article with an email from the former Governor and now presidential candidate in response to a question about his conversion:

“I loved the absolute nature of the Catholic Church. It resonated with me.”

Michael Paulson has written fair and informative account about Bush’s Catholicism.  What needs to be done next is to tackle of the question of how Bush’s position on immigration, so important to the Catholic bishops and anathema to many conservatives, will earn him credit among active Catholic voters.