Famed musician José Feliciano, whose iconic 1970 song “Feliz Navidad” rocks the airwaves every Christmas, opened up about his devout Catholicism and his conversion to the pro-life movement.
Speaking with the National Catholic Register, Feliciano said he always believed that God was pushing him into music despite his handicap as a blind man.
“When it was happening when I was younger, I looked upon it more as the fact that God had mercy on me because I was born into such meager surroundings — plus I was born blind,” said Feliciano.
“In a Latin family, more so than in an American family, being blind is like having the plague,” he continued. “By that, I mean my parents in the beginning thought there was no future for me, therefore, I couldn’t get around and do all of the things that parents think about … and it seemed to me that before my parents read the Bible or did other things with me, God was pushing me into the music area. God was showing me the light ever since I was born.”
Feliciano said he started appreciating music at the age of 4 and felt a pull from God to pursue it.
“I think a kid really starts thinking for himself at the age of 4, and somehow at that age when I would hear my uncles playing music, it seemed that God was sending me a message, that he was steering me in that direction,” he said. “In one sense being blind helped because if I would have been sighted, I probably would have been playing stick ball in the streets and not listening to the message that God was giving me, which was music all the time.”
After his birth, Feliciano said that his father had trouble accepting the fact that he had a blind son, not knowing exactly who this son would grow up to be.
“When I was first born, my father couldn’t face up to the fact that he had a son who was born blind,” he said. “In a sense he thought it was a defect from him, and people told him, ‘Hey, listen, don’t worry about him being blind. You don’t know what God has in store for him in the future’ … truer words were never spoken!”
On the songs he writes, Feliciano said he tends to avoid politics, believing that it’s unbecoming of an artist. He did, however, speak about one issue close to heart: abortion.
“I will mention one issue. I used to be pro-abortion, many, many years ago. I would have called myself pro-choice,” he said. “But then when I had my daughter Melissa, I went the other way … when I heard Melissa’s little heartbeat on the monitor, I said, ‘Well, wait a minute. Even if all there is is a heartbeat, that’s life, that’s life…'”
Feliciano said that his faith helped carry him through difficult times, and denounced those who would say that his blindness came from God.
“Yes, certainly. Some people have told me, ‘You are blind because it was God’s will.’ That’s baloney! God doesn’t want his children to be sick in any way,” he said. “If you have a deformity, it’s not God-made. It’s just one of those things that happens. It’s like the blueprint for your genetic copy had a flaw in it. It happens in fruits, it happens in animals, and it happened to me.”
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