I just read in the news the other day that a majority of Catholics voted for Donald Trump in November. As the shudders run up and down my spine, in the interest of Christian charity I am trying to put the best spin on this disturbing fact (for me, at least) that I can. Perhaps my Catholic sisters and brothers who voted for Donald Trump did so because they believed that was what the Pro-Life teaching of the Church demanded. (My own bishop wrote a jaw-dropping letter that was read at all of the Masses the Sunday before the election that basically said this.) Perhaps they honestly felt that Trump’s business background would enable him to address the very real and very painful economic dislocation that has resulted in so many losing their jobs as multinational corporations salivate after every last dollar and close up shop in America in pursuit of the cheapest labor force they can find. Maybe they could not see that the race-baiting which was woven into Trump’s campaign titilated that lingering racism which exists just below the conscious level for most white Americans.
Whatever the reasons, with the publication of Trump’s proposed budget for the next fiscal year and the passage of the new health plan through the House of Representatives, you are now faced with a challenge. Are you followers of Jesus first, or of Donald Trump? If you honestly did think that Donald Trump was the candidate whose policies were more consistent with Christian values, especially Christian social justice principles, then what are you going to do now that we have seen clear evidence that President Trump is supportive of removing the health care from 24 million Americans and, it would seem, using the money that will be saved to finance tax cuts, the majority of which will benefit the very rich?
What will you do now that it is clear the Trump administration has declared war on our efforts to acknowledge and combat climate change, despite the very clear teaching of Pope Francis that such behavior not only violates the Catholic principle of Stewardship (Care for the Environment) but also the principle of the Preferential option for the poor (because as temperatures and sea levels rise, as the detritus of our throwaway society continues to accumulate, it is the poor who will suffer first.)?
To quote Pope Francis, are you more comfortable with those who build walls or those, like Jesus, who seek to build bridges?
Thank you for this challenging and forthright post. I believe as Catholic Christians we are called to speak up for and act on behalf of, and with, those who are poor, marginalized, threatened. The current administration poses grave threats to our neighbors, near & far; to our one and only precious planet; to our democratic institutions; to basic principles of civility and integrity. You have asked us to go deep, to recall and revitalize our understanding of Catholic social teaching. Could it be we need, now more than ever, more adult formation to educate us about the great teachings and traditions of Catholic social justice? The teachings that spring from gospel and inform theologians, popes and ordinary people across centuries? Are we, as Catholics, even aware of what our faith calls us to do to bring the Kingdom, for social justice?