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Rudolph Giuliani: Faith in work, God, and himself

The former New York mayor's sense of discipline, which stemmed from a childhood living with a devout Catholic father and attending parochial schools, has shaped his career in public service.

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Minutes before the South Tower of the World Trade Center collapsed into a roar of white dust and debris, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani caught a glimpse of the Fire Department's chaplain, Father Mychal Judge.

"Pray for us," the mayor said, reaching out to grab the chaplain's hand as the two raced past each other in the chaos.

"I always do," replied Father Judge. "I always pray for you."

It was the last time Mr. Giuliani would see his close friend and spiritual adviser. Judge was killed minutes later as he administered last rites to a firefighter. The chaplain was just one of many personal friends among the casualties, which the mayor summed up for the stunned nation simply as "more than we can bear."

That calm, resolute, sensitive leader who emerged on Sept. 11, 2001, transformed the combative, operatic, and unpopular lame-duck mayor into New York's Churchill in a baseball cap. On the strength of that feat and his career as a crime-fighting, bureaucrat-busting reformer, Giuliani is staking his bid for the presidency.

At the core of his public life has been a private faith: faith in God, the American spirit, the value of hard work, and, unapologetically, in himself. Born and raised a Roman Catholic, educated in rigorous parochial schools, Giuliani says he even seriously considered becoming a priest "at least twice." But the thrice-married former prosecutor now declines to talk about his religious beliefs, calling them a private affair.

God, though, is another matter. On the campaign trail, he drops frequent references to the Almighty, even crediting God with preparing him to cope with 9/11 by guiding him to a book deal to write about leadership. "It was as if God provided an opportunity to design a course in leadership just when I needed it most," he writes in his book, aptly named "Leadership." As for faith, he believes in America's founding ideals. In a Monitor interview he called them a "secular religion."

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