How Trump, Clinton square up to Pope's political agenda

How Trump, Clinton square up to Pope’s political agenda

How Trump, Clinton square up to Pope’s political agenda

Pope Francis addressing US Congress last September. (Credit: CNS/Paul Haring.)

In his epic address to the U.S. Congress in September last year, Pope Francis laid out a vision of a politics for the common good. Recently, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton laid out their visions too -- in acceptance speeches at their conventions. How did they square up against Francis?

Last September, when Francis became the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress, Republican and Democratic members of Congress listened in rapt attention as the pope offered moral insights on many key issues, and lawmakers interrupted his talk with applause about three dozen times.

Ten months later, the two US presidential nominees have given the most important speeches of their lives: Donald Trump’s at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Hillary Clinton’s at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

How did their rhetoric match up with the messages of Pope Francis? Here’s a side-by-side comparison on ten key issues.

 

1. TERRORISM AND VIOLENCE

French riot police guard the street to the church in Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, where Fr Hamel was killed (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

French riot police guard the street to the church in Etienne-du-Rouvray, France, where Fr Hamel was killed (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Pope Francis to Congress, Sept. 24, 2015: “All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism… We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject. Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.”

Donald Trump to Republican National Convention, July 21, 2016: “To protect us from terrorism, we need to focus on three things. We must have the best, absolutely the best gathering of intelligence anywhere in the world. We must abandon the failed policy of nation-building and regime change that Hillary Clinton pushed in Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria. Instead, we must work with all of our allies who share our goal of destroying ISIS and stamping out Islamic terrorism and doing it now and doing it quickly. We are going to win, we’re going to win fast… Lastly, and very importantly, we must immediately suspend immigration from any nation that has been compromised by terrorism until such time as proven vetting mechanisms have been put in place. We don’t want them in our country.”

Hillary Clinton to Democratic National Convention, July 28, 2016: “We will not ban a religion. We will work with all Americans and our allies to fight terrorism… I’ve laid out my strategy for defeating ISIS. We will strike their sanctuaries from the air, and support local forces taking them out on the ground. We will surge our intelligence so that we detect and prevent attacks before they happen. We will disrupt their efforts online to reach and radicalize young people in our country. It won’t be easy or quick, but make no mistake – we will prevail.”

 

2. FAITH IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

Pope Francis prayed at the US-Mexico border fence along the Rio Grande in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Feb. 17, 2016. (AP)

Pope Francis prays at the US-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico Feb. 17, 2016. (AP)

Pope Francis, 9/24/15: “In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society.”

Donald Trump, 7/21/16: “[The evangelical and religious community] have much to contribute to our politics, yet our laws prevent you from speaking your minds from your own pulpits. An amendment pushed by Lyndon Johnson many years ago threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax exempt status if they openly advocate their political views. Their voice has been taken away. I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and to protect free speech for all Americans.”

Hillary Clinton, 7/28/16: “No one gets through life alone. We have to look out for each other and lift each other up. She (my mother) made sure I learned the words of our Methodist faith: ‘Do all the good you can, for all the people you can, in all the ways you can, as long as ever you can.’…Simply caring is not enough. To drive real progress, you have to change both hearts and laws. You need both understanding and action.”

 

3. IMMIGRATION

Pope Francis, 9/24/15: “We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants… Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal.”

Immigration advocates on Pennsylvania Avenue Dec. 30, 2015, file photo. (Credit: CNS photo/Shawn Thew/EPA.)

Immigration advocates on Pennsylvania Avenue Dec. 30, 2015, file photo. (Credit: CNS photo/Shawn Thew/EPA.)

Donald Trump, 7/21/16: “We are going to have an immigration system that works, but one that works for the American people… Of all my travels in this country, nothing has affected me more, nothing even close I have to tell you, than the time I have spent with the mothers and fathers who have lost their children to violence spilling across our borders which we can solve, we have to solve it… We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities.”

Hillary Clinton, 7/28/16: “We will not build a wall. Instead, we will build an economy where everyone who wants a good paying job can get one. And we’ll build a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants who are already contributing to our economy… I believe that when we have millions of hardworking immigrants contributing to our economy, it would be self-defeating and inhumane to kick them out. Comprehensive immigration reform will grow our economy and keep families together – and it’s the right thing to do.”

 

4. RACIAL JUSTICE

Pope Francis, 9/24/15: “Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery 50 years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his ‘dream’ of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of ‘dreams.’ Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.”

Civil right leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., following the slayings of police officers in Dallas in response to shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota July 8, 2016 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., following the slayings of police officers in Dallas in response to shootings of black men in Louisiana and Minnesota July 8, 2016 (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Donald Trump, 7/21/16: “The irresponsible rhetoric of our president, who has used the pulpit of the presidency to divide us by race and color, has made America a more dangerous environment than frankly I have ever seen and anybody in this room has ever watched or seen. This Administration has failed America’s inner cities… It’s failed them on education. It’s failed them on jobs. It’s failed them on crime. It’s failed them in every way and on every single level. When I am president, I will work to ensure that all of our kids are treated equally, and protected equally. Every action I take, I will ask myself: does this make life better for young Americans in Baltimore, in Chicago, in Detroit, in Ferguson who have really in every way folks, the same right to live out their dreams as any other child in America?”

Hillary Clinton, 7/28/16: “We have to heal the divides in our country. Not just on guns. But on race. Immigration. And more. That starts with listening to each other. Hearing each other. Trying, as best we can, to walk in each other’s shoes. So let’s put ourselves in the shoes of young black and Latino men and women who face the effects of systemic racism, and are made to feel like their lives are disposable.”

 

5. ABORTION AND THE DIGNITY OF LIFE

Pope Francis, 9/24/15: “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development. This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes.”

Hundreds of thousands of abortion opponents join the March for Life in Washington, DC every January. (Credit: AP)

Hundreds of thousands of abortion opponents join the March for Life in Washington, DC every January. (Credit: AP)

(Note: Neither Trump nor Clinton directly mentioned abortion, or the death penalty, in their acceptance speeches. Trump, who opposes abortion, praised the legacy of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a steadfast opponent of legal abortion on the Court. Clinton, a strong supporter of abortion rights and Planned Parenthood, said she would work to enact the Democratic party platform, which reflects those views on abortion.)

Donald Trump, 7/21/16: “We are also going to appoint justices to the United States Supreme Court who will uphold our laws and our Constitution. The replacement of our beloved Justice Scalia will be a person of similar views, principles and judicial philosophies. Very important. This will be one of the most important issues decided by this election.”

Hillary Clinton, 7/28/16: “If you believe we should expand Social Security and protect a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, join us… We will defend all our rights – civil rights, human rights and voting rights, women’s rights and workers’ rights, LGBT rights and the rights of people with disabilities.”

 

6. POVERTY AND THE ECONOMY

Pope Francis, 9/24/15: “I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes… It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.”

Living wageDonald Trump, 7/21/16: “I am going to bring back our jobs to Ohio and Pennsylvania and New York and Michigan and all of America, and I am not going to let companies move to other countries, firing their employees along the way without consequence. Not going to happen anymore… With these new economic policies, trillions and trillions of dollars will start flowing into our country. This new wealth will improve the quality of life for all Americans. We will build the roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, airports, and the railways of tomorrow. This in turn will create millions of more jobs.”

Hillary Clinton, 7/28/16: “My primary mission as president will be to create more opportunity and more good jobs with rising wages right here in the United States… If you believe the minimum wage should be a living wage, and no one working full time should have to raise their children in poverty, join us. If you believe that every man, woman, and child in America has the right to affordable health care, join us… In my first 100 days, we will work with both parties to pass the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II. Jobs in manufacturing, clean energy, technology and innovation, small business, and infrastructure. If we invest in infrastructure now, we’ll not only create jobs today, but lay the foundation for the jobs of the future.”

 

Produce grown in the community garden at St. Pius X Church in Conyers, Ga. goes to families in need. The garden is an example of ways the Atlanta Archdiocese hopes Catholics and parishes can implement Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment. (CNS/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

Community garden at St. Pius X Church in Conyers, Ga., a response by Atlanta Archdiocese to Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. (CNS/Michael Alexander, Georgia Bulletin)

7. THE ENVIRONMENT

Pope Francis, 9/24/15: “In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to ‘redirect our steps’ and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies…”

Donald Trump, 7/21/16: “We are going to lift the restrictions on the production of American energy. This will produce more than $20 trillion in job-creating economic activity over the next four decades.”

Hillary Clinton, 7/28/16: “I believe that climate change is real and that we can save our planet while creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs… I’m proud that we shaped a global climate agreement – now we have to hold every country accountable to their commitments, including ourselves.”

 

8. POLITICS AND THE COMMON GOOD

Pope Francis, 9/24/15: “If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.”

Pope Francis cited social activist Dorothy Day in his speech to US Congress

Pope Francis cited social activist Dorothy Day in his speech to US Congress

Donald Trump, 7/21/16: “Our plan will put America first… The American people will come first once again… Every day I wake up determined to deliver a better life for the people all across this nation that had been ignored, neglected and abandoned… I have no patience for injustice. No tolerance for government incompetence… We are going to be considerate and compassionate to everyone. But my greatest compassion will be for our own struggling citizens.”

Hillary Clinton, 7/28/16: “‘Stronger Together’ is not just a lesson from our history. It’s not just a slogan for our campaign. It’s a guiding principle for the country we’ve always been and the future we’re going to build… Every generation of Americans has come together to make our country freer, fairer, and stronger… None of us can do it alone. I know that at a time when so much seems to be pulling us apart, it can be hard to imagine how we’ll ever pull together again. But I’m here to tell you tonight – progress is possible.”

 

9. ARMS TRADE

arms tradePope Francis, 9/24/15: “Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.”

Donald Trump, 7/21/16: (no mention)

Hillary Clinton, 7/28/16: (no mention)

 

10. NUCLEAR WEAPONS

(The day after his talk to Congress, Pope Francis followed the path of Pope Benedict XVI, St. John Paul II and Blessed Paul VI in addressing the United Nations General Assembly and making an urgent plea for “a world free of nuclear weapons.”)

Pope Francis’ address to the United Nations, Sept. 25, 2015: “An ethics and a law based on the threat of mutual destruction – and possibly the destruction of all mankind – are self-contradictory and an affront to the entire framework of the United Nations, which would end up as ‘nations united by fear and distrust.’ There is urgent need to work for a world free of nuclear weapons, in full application of the non-proliferation Treaty, in letter and spirit, with the goal of a complete prohibition of these weapons … The recent agreement reached on the nuclear question in a sensitive region of Asia and the Middle East is proof of the potential of political good will and of law, exercised with sincerity, patience and constancy. I express my hope that this agreement will be lasting and efficacious, and bring forth the desired fruits with the cooperation of all the parties involved.”Pentagon to Scap "Peacekeepers" Missiles

Donald Trump, 7/21/16: (Although he made no mention of nuclear weapons he criticized the Obama Administration’s agreement with Iran referred to by the Pope). “We all remember the images of our sailors being forced to their knees by their Iranian captors at gunpoint. This was just prior to the signing of the Iran deal, which gave back to Iran $150 billion and gave us absolutely nothing – it will go down in history as one of the worst deals ever negotiated.”

Clinton, 7/28/16: “I’m proud that we put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program without firing a single shot – now we have to enforce it, and keep supporting Israel’s security… [Referring to Trump later:] Imagine him in the Oval Office facing a real crisis. A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons. I can’t put it any better than Jackie Kennedy did after the Cuban Missile Crisis. She said that what worried President Kennedy during that very dangerous time was that a war might be started – not by big men with self-control and restraint, but by little men – the ones moved by fear and pride.”

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