Ahead of the 2016 presidential elections, a leading American Catholic prelate is saying that neither candidate is clearly better than the other, because both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have “astonishing flaws.”
“This is depressing and liberating at the same time,” Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput wrote in his Aug. 12 column for Catholic Philly, the news outlet of the archdiocese he leads.
“Depressing, because it’s proof of how polarized the nation has become,” Chaput wrote. “Liberating, because for the honest voter, it’s much easier this year to ignore the routine tribal loyalty chants of both the Democratic and Republican camps.”
In his column, Chaput argues that because of the financial reality of both candidates, with Trump being worth roughly $4.5 billion according to Forbes and Clinton $45 million, neither lives “anywhere near the solar system where most Americans live, work and raise families.”
Yet, he says, voters are asked to trust them.
The archbishop, who claims he still doesn’t know who he’ll vote for when the time comes, masks his personal opinion of either candidate by describing them through “the view of a lot of people.”
Hence Trump comes out as “an eccentric businessman of defective ethics, whose bombast and buffoonery make him inconceivable as president.”
Clinton, on the other hand, “should be under criminal indictment.”
“The fact that she’s not – again, in the view of a lot of people — proves Orwell’s Animal Farm principle that ‘all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others’,” Chaput writes.
Describing Friday’s column as “thoughts from a brother in the faith, not as teachings from an archbishop,” Chaput also goes after Vice President Joe Biden as well as Clinton’s VP running mate, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine.
According to Chaput the two, self-identified Catholics, “seem to publicly ignore or invent the content of their Catholic faith as they go along.”
The archbishop doesn’t mention them by name, but the references are clear.
The faith of both Biden and Kaine has been under the microscope lately, with Vice President Biden officiating a gay wedding and the Virginia senator’s pro-abortion rights and pro-gay marriage record.
As a matter of fact, Chaput is not the only Catholic bishop to speak about Kaine’s faith.
Writing on his Facebook page, Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence said July 23 that Kaine’s positions on these and other issues “are clearly contrary to well-established Catholic teachings,” adding that the senator’s positions have been “opposed by Pope Francis as well.”
“Senator Kaine has said, ‘My faith is central to everything I do.’ But apparently, and unfortunately, his faith isn’t central to his public, political life,” Tobin wrote.
Ahead of the November voting, “when each Catholic voter must choose between deeply flawed options,” and quoting the US bishop’s document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, Chaput invites the faithful to pray.
Chaput says that by “Catholic” he means those who “take their faith seriously,” placing it first “in their loyalty, thoughts and actions,” who submit their lives “to Jesus Christ, the Scripture and to the guidance of the community of belief we know as the Church.”
“Anyone else who claims the Catholic label is simply fooling himself or herself — and even more importantly, misleading others,” he writes.
Mike Pence, Trump’s vice president candidate, was raised a Catholic, but later gravitated to an Evangelical mega-church.
Chaput also says that when the bishops urge prayer, they mean more than mumbling a Hail Mary before voting for the perceived “lesser evil.” Prayer, he argues, involves “listening to God’s voice and educating our consciences.”
Further down in his column, Chaput says that God “will hold us accountable to think deeply and clearly, rightly ordering the factors that guide us,” yet American modern life, with its “pervasive social media” and the “relentless catechesis of consumption on our TVs” seems bent on “turning us into opinionated and distracted cattle.”
“Thinking and praying require silence, and the only way we can get silence is by deciding to step back and unplug,” Chaput writes.
He also argues that it’s “blasphemous” to assume God prefers any political party, yet “God, by his nature, is always concerned with good and evil and the choices we make between the two.”
For Catholics, Chaput writes, political and social issues aren’t isolated things, neither are all issues equal in their foundational importance: the right to life “undergirds all other rights,” and it can’t be contextualized “in the name of other ‘rights’.”
Chaput closes his column saying that the upcoming months will determine America’s next decade and urging his readers to think quietly, with heads clear of “media noise” because “none of us can afford to live the coming weeks on autopilot.”