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WASHINGTON, D.C., February 26, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – President Donald Trump issued a public statement Wednesday to Catholics and Christians, telling them that he was joining them in prayer during their observance of Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent which leads to the celebration of Christ’s resurrection at Easter.

“For Catholics and many other Christians, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Lenten season that concludes with the joyful celebration of Easter Sunday,” the president said. “Today, millions of Christians will be marked on their foreheads with the sign of the cross. The imposition of ashes is an invitation to spend time during Lent fasting, praying, and engaging in acts of charity.”

“This powerful and sacred tradition reminds us of our shared mortality, Christ’s saving love, and the need to repent and accept the Gospel more fully,” he continued. “We join in prayer with everyone observing this holy day and wish you a prayerful Lenten journey. May you grow closer to God in your faith during this blessed season.”

For social conservatives, Trump’s friendliness to religion and religious causes has been a pleasant surprise of his presidency, given his adulterous past and former support for abortion.

Religious liberty has been a priority of the Trump administration, from lifting the Obama administration’s contraception mandate to establishing a White House office tasked with fielding the concerns of religious Americans and monitoring threats as they arise. Last month, the administration released a guidance affirming students have the right to pray in public schools.

“He’s someone who really believes in the power of prayer,” Vice President Mike Pence has previously said of Trump, revealing that the president regularly asks to open White House meetings with prayer.