CFC in the News 2016
National Catholic Reporter

Trump’s letter to Catholics

I just finished reading Trump’s “Letter to Catholic Leaders.” I choked. I realize that Trump is not a very religious man — putting it charitably — but this letter is one that fails to speak to any but a narrow slice of Catholics about the issues that concern us.

Trump assumes that speaking with the voice of the hierarchy on issues of sexuality and reproduction he is speaking to all Catholics! Think again, Donald! The laity are often at odds with the hierarchy on these issues.

First, Trump assumes that Catholics are all anti-abortion. Read the polls, Donald! Just because the hierarchy takes a position on an issue, it does not follow that the Catholic laity agree with them. For example, a Belden Russonello poll done September 8-13 of this year shows that 60 percent of Catholic voters say that abortion can be a moral choice.

Second, Trump assumes that most Catholics side with the Little Sisters of the Poor in their lawsuit. He says he would not force them to “pay for contraceptives in their health care plan (even though they have never wanted them, never used them and never will).” Donald, this contraceptive coverage is not for the sisters! It’s for their employees! And when it comes to using contraception, polls have consistently shown that Catholics of child-bearing age use it at the same rate as other groups in the population. Read the polls, Donald!

But most significantly, he never mentions the issues that Pope Francis has emphasized so strongly: concern for the poor and refugees, working to end wars and conflicts, and concern for the earth and the environment.

But he does say he will “repeal and replace” Obamacare, which, of course, has helped millions of low-income Americans get health insurance. And in the past, he has said that he does not believe that climate change is real.

He does say he will appoint Supreme Court justices like the recently deceased Antonin Scalia. Choke! The last thing we need on the court are rigid, literalist thinkers like Scalia.

He tries to sum up his views this way:

On issues and policies of greatest concern to Catholics, the differences between myself and Hillary Clinton are stark. I will stand with Catholics and fight for you. Hillary Clinton has been openly hostile to these core Catholic issues for a long time, and is only going to be worse with Tim Kaine now following her lead.

Sorry, Donald, Pope Francis’ messages about the poor and peace and care of the earth are the Catholic issues of our time. And you clearly do not know that (and neither does the person who wrote that letter for you!). On the other hand, Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine DO know that — Hillary learned it as a social justice Methodist, and Tim Kaine learned it from Jesuits.

So as a Catholic, I am insulted by Trump’s letter. He has stereotyped and cubby-holed Catholics into an “abortion/contraception” box. He has assumed that we all think alike, and our opinions are carbon copies of the opinions of the hierarchy.

Most important of all, he has totally missed the social justice message of Catholicism — indeed, all of Christianity.

This piece was originally published by National Catholic Reporter.