Washington D.C., Mar 19, 2020 / 13:30 pm
The lieutenant governor of Washington announced on Thursday that he will not seek re-election and instead will enter the Society of Jesus this autumn.
Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib (D), 38, will end his eight-year career in public office after what he described as “two years of careful and prayerful discernment” led him to apply to join the Jesuits.
Habib, who was elected lieutenant governor in 2016, is the highest-ranking Iranian-American elected official in the United States.
As his discernment process was “almost entirely private,” Habib said that he expected many of his constituents and supporters would find his decision to be a “major surprise,” particularly he was considered by many to have a bright political future.
“Many will be wondering why someone who has spent the last eight years climbing the political ladder and who has a not insignificant chance of acceding to the governorship next year, would trade a life of authority for one of obedience,” Habib said in an essay explaining his decision in America magazine, which is published by the Society of Jesus.
In the essay, he credited his Catholic faith for initially motivating him to enter politics, and for guiding his decisions in office.
“My priorities in office were firmly rooted in Catholic social teaching, which places the poor, the sick, the disabled, the immigrant, the prisoner and all who are marginalized at the center of our social and political agenda,” he wrote in America.
Habib lost his sight at the age of eight due to cancer and is a three-time cancer survivor. He wrote that his life experience has given him a sense of empathy for those on social margins.