Skip to comments.A Catholic Apology to Trump & His Voters
Posted on 03/17/2016 9:45:46 AM PDT by GonzoII
The God of Abraham asks us to turn our face outward to the world, recognising His image even in the people who are not in our image, whose faith is not mine, whose colour and culture are not mine, yet whose humanity is as God-given and consecrated as mine. ~Jonathan Sacks
On March 7, 2016, prominent Catholics Robert P. George and George Weigel published in the National Review An Appeal to Our Fellow Catholics to reject [Donald Trumps] candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination. As a fellow Catholic to whom this appeal was addressed, I respond in this open letter, apologizing for both the purpose and language of this published piece.
While Professor George and Mr. Weigel opened their letter with a noncontroversial (if incomplete) statement of Catholic priorities, and a more questionable embrace of the Republican Party, they immediately shifted, not to a candidate-by-candidate, reasoned analysis, but to a direct and hostile attack on one candidate, Donald J. Trump. With no factual support for their assertion that Trumps appeal rests upon racism and ethnic prejudice, George and Weigel fashioned a personal, conclusory, name-calling hit piece on this candidate whose voter base constitutes a culture distinct from the more polished, elite world in which the authors live.
Sadly, these authors cursorily urged Catholics to reject Trumps candidacy because he is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States and because of his vulgarity, oafishness, shocking ignorance.
Many Catholics, myself included, were dismayed that these respected Catholic intellectuals drew upon the sort of language they disapprove of in the candidate Trump. This alone warrants an apology. I wish to assure candidate Trump and his voters that Catholics generally are called upon by Gospel and church law to respect people whose differences we might not understand and to treat all persons with dignity, even people with whom we most strongly disagree or dont understand.
The Catholic laity is held to a higher standard than mere avoidance of hypocrisy. Our church law, and letters and directives from our popes, exhort us to engage our work in a manner that serves as witness to Christ throughout the world. (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity, 1965). This fundamental mission entails concern and care for the dignity of every person, not merely the promotion of the church as institution and enforcement of Catholic principles via legislation and political mandate.
The dignity of every individual includes good reputation. Catholics are admonished to avoid name-calling, gossip and other harm to a persons reputation in the community. Canon 220 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law provides:
No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses or to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy.
These rights inhere in the exceptional dignity which belongs to the human person. (Gaudium et spes, 1965). There is no exception to this Catholic precept because an individual says something vulgar or behaves awkwardly or selfishly or because a person supports a candidate who speaks to them in familiar sentiments and language. To the contrary, ones protection against intentional harm to his or her reputation by others is embedded as a right in their very humanity.
Catholics can and should take action in the world to witness Christ and the fundamental principles of our faith. We may act to protect both the common good and the Church itself even though [we] might thereby damage someones reputation. (New Commentary on the Code of Canon Law, 2000). Thus, for example, Church penalties are imposed publicly for wrongful behavior only as a last resort and Church law admonishes that care must be taken so that the good name of anyone is not endangered. (Canon 1717, sec. 2).
The concern for reputation imposes on all Catholics an obligation to avoid intentional attacks and harm to another in favor of rational dialogue, critique and even correction. Deal Hudsons essay Will Pro-life Catholics Vote for Donald Trump? models how Catholics can and should dialogue with respect to all candidates. Professor George and Mr. Weigel could have, similarly, offered an analysis to fellow Catholics of their perspective of Catholic political priorities and how each of the Republican candidates might further such priorities, or not.
Their piece, however, was not a factual, reasoned analysis supportive of substantive conclusions; rather, their letter was a perfunctory, verbal assault to harm candidate Trumps reputation. Notably, they also cast shame and intimidation on any Catholic who might consider voting for Trump with assertions that anyone of genuinely Catholic sensibility would agree with their attack.
Accusing a public figure (and, by extension, his supporters) of being oafish, vulgar, ignorant and unfit is language reserved for those anxious to express hostility and tarnish the reputation of the targeted individual. This is language which, I daresay, no ordained person would ever use with respect to another person; nor should any Catholic lay person.
Finally, the authors conclude with one final insult. They accuse Trump of demagoguery, adding for emphasis, we do not hesitate to use the word. Demagoguery – an appeal to people that plays on their emotions and prejudices rather than on their rational side – implicates the candidate as well as every one of the candidates supporters. Lest fellow Catholics miss their point, the authors urge a rejection not just of Trump but of those people who are supporting him. Such people, George and Weigel insist, are making emotional and prejudicial decisions, without reason or analysis.
I find this seemingly class-based bias most shocking of all. Are we to understand that the NASCAR, blue collar crowds objection to the apparent export and loss of their jobs; their objection to illegal immigration – that they believe is forcing down the wages of the jobs they do have, but fueling profits of big business; their objection to Free Trade — that they believe is gutting small town America, while fattening Wall Street; their objection to the exorbitant cost of health care and the phase out of benefits; their objection to the denigration of their sons and daughters who have served in the military, bled, and died that these objections clearly articulated and addressed by candidate Trump are merely fears, prejudices and emotions? Are we to understand that their support of Trump is therefore without rational basis?
It is hard to fathom a more stinging insult to the dignity of Trumps voter base. This base undoubtedly includes many practicing Catholics who, in trying to meet basic needs and protect and provide for their families in a climate the working class perceives as hostile, rejoice in finally having some voice in the political process and hope for their future. As Republican Kurt Schlichter recently wrote of the Donaldites at Townhall.com:
Immigration and free trade are generally good, but they impose real costs and our base is getting handed the bill. These folks have been asking us for help, and what was our response? Shut up, stupid racists.
It is embarrassing that prominent Catholic voices have joined this chorus.
Mr. Trump, I do not know for whom I am going to vote. I have not personally determined the extent to which you will promote the Catholic values I cherish, though other Catholics believe our faith is consistent with support of your candidacy.
What I do know is that I am ashamed of the personal attack on you and your base by my fellow Catholics.
Marjorie Murphy Campbell writes for St. Dominics in San Francisco, California and for NewFeminism.co. She holds a JD from University of Virginia School of Law, a Ll.M. from Georgetown Law and a JCL from the School of Canon Law of Catholic University of America. She has practiced criminal defense and bankruptcy and taught at University of Cincinnati School of Law and the McGeorge School of Law at University of the Pacific.
Then she needs to have the NRO publish THIS.
The Pope had no influence
They never would. It’s thoughtful and well-reasoned. It doesn’t wish death to blue collar America.
God bless Marjorie Murphy Campbell!
(And thanks for posting this incisive and insightful article.)
Even Catholics have locks on their doors.
Even the pope has locks, gates, and security.
Thank-you Miss Marjory.
I simply figured it was more of the pot calling the kettle, black. Back in the day, they’d of strung him up and demand he recant, and then split him down the middle, or disembowel him in front of a crowd. At least this time, the vindictive was in the form of words on paper. I’d call that a slight improvement.
Very impressive. Kudos to Ms Campbell.
I’m glad at least someone apologized but where were these same “prominent Catholics” during Barack Obama’s attacks on Catholic values? Why are they silent about Hillary and her promotion of abortion and gay “marriage”? Where were these prominent Catholics when our Church decided to promote an invasion of overwhelming numbers of Mexicans and others, in violation of our laws? Why have we got openly gay parade displays at an allegedly Catholic parade but no pro-life displays?
I could go on...
If someone wants to claim to be a prominent member of the Catholic laity, they need to fight against corruption and sin wherever it lies.
Many Catholics, myself included, were dismayed that these respected Catholic intellectuals drew upon the sort of language they disapprove of in the candidate Trump.
Hey, Robert George and George Weigel, you don't speak for me. I am a Catholic. Don't include me in your un-Catholic flock.
I decided to read the original NRO piece, fearing it would be long as George Wiegel can be verbose when he has something to say. Surprisingly, it was very short, and was mere invective.
When I read it, it reminded me of a coworker of mine, who had a Mayflower-type name (Randolph Heath), a crewcut, conservative shirt and tie accoutrments and an attraction to the occult, vegetarianism, and general New Age leftism.
He figured out what I was about and decided to show me a letter to the editor he had published. In it, he denounced Pat Buchanan’s speech to the Republican National Convention (this was 1992), comparing him to Hitler, etc. etc.
What was missing? A single Buchanan quotation or a single pertinent fact. When he asked for my comment, I asked “What exactly did he say that was wrong?” He just shrugged his shoulders and laughed lightly, “Well, you know.” I didn’t know, and he couldn’t or wouldn’t tell me.
This piece blasting Donald Trump is similar, “Well, you know.”
Trump’s not my first choice, and I do know my misgivings about him. I have them for every candidate, and nearly every human being on earth including myself. The article doesn’t cite exactly what disqualifies him in a way that Romney would not be disqualified, nor why Trump would be disqualified, but practical Catholic Santorum should not have been despite similar stands on immigration.
An appeal to Catholics, who have considerable latitude in judging candidates, should include a specific position or statement contrated with a clear and specific Catholic teaching. Clear is “It is always wrong to deliberately procure or assist in the procurement of an abortion”. Unspecific is saying that we cannot enforce our immigration laws because “We should love our neighbors” which proscribes no such policy and is VERY open to prudential judgment.
Wiegel and company’s condmenation, fortunately, is not authoritative, and observant Catholics can decide for themselves whether Trump is an acceptable or even superior candidate in their prudential judgement.
Needless to say, I haven't given the turd a plug nickel ever since.
Well, they used the term ‘vulgar’ which I do often see and hear from candidate Trump. In fact I have written here about it and how it turns many folks off of the candidate.
The problem with this anti-Trump article is that is ignores so many things. All of the criticism are about things that can be easily changed. In fact, I think Trump will change his speech patterns - at least a tad - in the near future.
I assume Trump is not lazy and he is definitely smart - so there is no reason to believe he will not be a quick learner on the campaign trail as well as in selecting good advisors.
“Oafishness” - is that referring to his rather comedic one-line responses at the debates? if so, he can easily change that too.
Trump is his own greatest enemy with regards to his speeches.
He also seems to have good instincts about what the country needs and the anger in the electorate.
If he is the nominee, I will vote for him.
Thank you. I enjoyed your post as much as the article. It’s very disheartening to read of people having some sort of inexplicable discomfort with a person (Trump) and blasting him without that explanation. We hear endlessly that Trump is a sexist/xenophobic/racist/homophobe/bigot, blah blah blah without any direct quote that is reasonably perceived as sexist/xenophobic or racist.
He wants to build a wall because our borders have been breached millions of times? Because the border breachers then squat in the USA and demand special treatment, education for their children, health care for all of them, housing, etc.? Trump wants to vet people from sects in an extremely violent part of the globe, many of whom wish to spread the violence, before having them come into our nest? This is xenophobic? Then, by God, let’s have more xenophobia.
Part of my email from Catholic.com:
“Trump recommended his own sister,
> Maryanne Trump Berry, for the Supreme Court. She’s the federal
> judge who overturned New Jersey’s ban on grisly partial-birth
> abortions. The next President may choose as many as three or more
> new justices. Trump’s suggestion of his pro-abortion sister as an
> example ought to worry anyone who cares about the Court. And
> let’s not forget he once said Oprah would make a great Vice
Just because Trump says he will build a wall, does that mean he will? We’ve had so many promises from politicians that were not kept, so why do we believe a politicians who has flip flopped on SO MAN ISSUES?
Another excerpt from my email from Catholicvote.com:
“Donald Trump criticized Mitt Romney
> for being too harsh on immigration back in 2012 (snip)..
> We agree illegal immigration is a problem that must be solved.
> Trump’s solution is delusionalsnip— and
> truthfully, will never happen. If anything, Trump’s demagoguery
> on immigration showcases the emptiness of many of his promises.
> As President Obama has learned, American presidents don’t dictate
> laws. The Senate and House would have to pass any change of this
> magnitude, and such a solution has little to no chance of being
> approved. (snip)
The remark about his sister occured in the first weeks of his campaign; the man had not made a serious run for the presidency before (although people have been asking him to for the past 25 years), he isn't any sort of government official at this time and has never been one, and his remark most certainly wasn't on the level of a presidential nomination. He made an offhand "atta girl" or "shout out" from family pride to his sister, thinking that others would recognize that his family isn't just a bunch of yahoos. He said it while also mentioning an uncle who was an MIT professor.
Trump has since recanted of the remark months and months ago and has named others about whom he is more serious.
Unlike many people who go through life holding rigidly to an ideology, he is a person who does have basic principles, but is also willing and able to adapt to new circumstances in order to achieve broad and deep goals, recognizing the need to form a coalition of agreement from many quarters. He has vowed to serve the American people and be responsive to their needs. Abortion was never a deep personal concern of his, but as president, he would work with his DOJ to evaluate its impact on the US and push for what I believe will be incremental changes in law to eliminate the extremism of the Democrat party and the leftsts about abortion.
I do not think any one of the candidates, including Cruz, can or would effectively eliminate legal abortion altogether, nor would today's populace support a complete prohibiition. Reasonable people want to see a great reduction in the number of abortions and a possible elimination of the ghastlier forms, such as later term and certainly partial-birth abortion or allowing abortion surviving infants to die in a back room because their mothers and doctors want them dead. Churches bear a responsibility for ruling the hearts and minds of their people and educating the young so that abortion does not occur among their membership. But we do not live in a theocracy and cannot force our Christian views on every American.
Trump, who is not a Catholic, nevertheless has grown with the issue and has steadily over the years grown to renounce abortion.
Feb 15, 2016, campaign web site: DONALD J. TRUMP FOR PRESIDENT, INC. OPED - THE CULTURE OF LIFE
Jan 23, 2016, Washington Examiner: Donald Trump op-ed: My vision for a culture of life
OnTheIssues.org site gives chronological history of Trump's evolution on this issue, with dates and links:
"I am now pro-life; after years of being pro-choice"
Source: Steven Ertelt in LifeNews.com , Apr 8, 2011
"I changed my views to pro-life based on personal stories"
Source: David Brody interview on CBN.com , Apr 8, 2011
"I am pro-life; fight ObamaCare abortion funding"
Source: USA Today report on 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference , Feb 10, 2011
"Pro-choice, but ban partial birth abortion" (16 years ago)
Source: The America We Deserve, by Donald Trump, p. 31-32 , Jul 2, 2000
"Favors abortion rights but respects opposition"
Source: Pat Eaton-Robb, Associated Press , Dec 2, 1999 (unavailable online)
Bookmarking your post for the links.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.