Santorum tears up recounting Pope Francis’ blessing for disabled daughter

Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum teared up during an interview Wednesday on ABC’s “The View” when talking about his disabled daughter’s being blessed by Pope Francis.

“It was a very special time,” said Santorum, who is a devout Catholic, of the opportunity to attend the Pope’s departure ceremony over the weekend. “We didn’t have front row seats, but two people saw our daughter there and they gave up their seats.”

The pope held and kissed Santorum’s 7-year-old daughter, Bella, who suffers from a rare genetic condition called Trisomy 18. Most people born with the chromosomal abnormality only survive for approximately one year.

“Bella is a miracle,” Santorum said after regaining his composure. In the past, Santorum has been openly critical of the pope’s call to address climate change, and seemingly tolerant views on gay people.

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The pope’s historic visit to the United States last week attracted an enormous amount of attention, hardly any of it negative. That all changed Tuesday evening, however, when the controversial Kentucky clerk Kim Davis told ABC News she secretly met the pope and that he told her to “stay strong.” A source close to the visit later confirmed to NBC News that the Pope did in fact meet with Davis, who has been under fire for weeks for refusing to comply with a federal court order that she issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Though Santorum has pledged his support for Davis, he did not mention the secret meeting on Wednesday. He did, however, reiterate his opposition to same-sex marriage, telling co-host Raven-Symoné that the purpose of marriage is to encourage “a permanent bond” between a child and its natural mother and father.

Santorum also discussed federal funding for Planned Parenthood, saying as president he would “reallocate every dollar” that goes to the women’s health organization and put it toward “much more comprehensive women’s health care centers.”

Pope Francis and Rick Santorum

Santorum tears up recounting Pope Francis' blessing for disabled daughter