Support This Website! Shop Here!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Catholics and American Politics

"Are you a Democrat, Republican or Independent?"
"Oh, none of the above."
"Excuse me?"
"I said, 'None of the above. I am Catholic.'"

Anti-Catholic Bigotry: A Proud History

Catholics have an odd political history. The Catholic outlook does not fit any particular American political movement, which is why Catholics have long been considered politically suspect. Everyone remembers the Democrat party invented the KKK to suppress the black vote, but few recall that it also suppressed the Catholics and the Jews. In fact, the largest lynching in the history of the American south was not a mass lynching of blacks, but of Catholics - in 1891, eleven Italian-Americans were lynched for allegedly killing a police officer.

Similarly, the national Know Nothing party was founded exactly one year after the Republican party, and the two had close ties. The Know Nothings were famously and virulently anti-Catholic. The Know-Nothing penchant for violence is perhaps best remembered in the success of a local chapter in burning down an Ursuline Convent in 1834, Almost exactly twenty years later, they destroyed a marble block donated by the Pope for use in the construction of the Washington Monument, The Know-Nothings "kidnapped" the block and threw it into the Potomac to keep Washington's Monument free of "popish" influences.

Modern Bigots: Clinton/Trump

Whether Democrat or Republican, political advancement in America has long been tied to displaying one's anti-Catholic credentials to a frequently bloodthirsty audience. Thus, it is no surprise to see Trump's hypocritical attack the Pope (to see Trump's complete statement, go here): 

Of course, the Pope did not question Trump's faith. In fact, the Pope publicly refused to believe that Trump was as bad as the press portrayed him, and publicly chastised the press for portraying him that way. The only way one could construe the papal remarks as an attack on Trump's faith is by assuming the reporter's caricature of Trump's faith was not a caricature at all, but rather absolutely accurate. In fact, the Pope did not confirm the caricature, on the contrary, he specifically questioned the accuracy of the reporter's caricature.

So, why did Trump respond so viciously, pretending he had been attacked when Pope Francis had actually questioned the reporter's veracity?  Trump responded that way precisely because Trump knows what all politicians know - in certain circles, you get more mileage for attacking the Pope than for agreeing with him.

Now Hillary Clinton is on the dock because the highest members of her staff had virulently anti-Catholic conversations, with the following documented example demonstrating the bias:
“It’s [i.e., Catholicism is] an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy,” Mr. Halpin said.
“I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they become evangelicals,” Ms. Palmieri responded.
“Excellent point,” Mr. Halpin wrote back. “They can throw around ‘Thomistic’ thought and ‘subsidiarity’ and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.”
Actually, Catholics expect a well-educated person to be familiar with basic terms like "subsidiarity" and "Thomistic thought". Every politician claims to be well-educated. Clinton's emails demonstrate that Clinton's "best" people function at or below the educational level usually attributed to Trump supporters.

In General, What Does a Catholic Stand For?

An excellent question. For Catholics, Faith comes before country. We have a duty to Christ that supersedes any duty to secular authority. If it is a choice between obeying God and man, we obey God. Still, as Scripture says, we must also acknowledge that our leaders have power only because God permits them to, thus we are called to work within the law whenever possible.

Responsibility should be shouldered at the lowest possible level - the players at the lowest level of society, e.g., parents, teachers, etc., the people out on the street, doing the work, these are the people who should have the greatest voice in a process. Higher levels of authority exist not to rule over those in the street, but to help allocate resources so that those who know the problem best have what they need to resolve the problem. This is called the "principle of subsidiarity."

Since revolution, especially armed revolution, disrupts society, such movements always harm innocents, Acting with this in mind, Catholics are required to avoid fomenting rebellion or revolution if it can possibly be avoided. We are required to work within the system, not subvert it. These political principles, and many more, were clearly explained by Thomas Aquinas. In fact, Catholic political principles are drawn largely from his clear, logical analysis, analysis which summarized how human and divine action should interact. His summaries of political and theological principles are together known as "Thomistic" thought.

Catholics on Specific Issues

So, can some major principles, as regards America's culture, be enunciated?

Quasi-Democrat principle
All people have the right to attempt to better their lives, so immigration must be as free as possible. Vatican City models this principle by not even having a passport check on its border with Italy. Anyone can freely enter the country at any time, and many of Italy's homeless take advantage of that fact every night, walking across the Vatican City border for shelter and food.

Quasi-Republican principle
That having been said, insofar as those laws are just, and do not violate human rights, immigrants have a duty to obey the laws of their host country

Quasi-Democrat principle
Everyone has the right to live their life as they think best, according to the primacy of a well-formed conscience.

Quasi-Republican principle
However, for anyone's actions to be acceptable, their conscience must be "well-formed." The state has every right to restrict actions which someone freely undertakes, but which would not pass the test of a well-formed conscience.

Quasi-Democrat principle
We all have a duty to care for the poor. This duty is bound by the principle of subsidiarity, that is, the poor should be taken care of by local organizations, not far-away government agencies. HOWEVER, higher organizations, such as city, county, state and federal government, have a duty to assist those local organizations. The government's duty towards those local organizations includes the duty to provide necessary resources, such as funding.

Quasi-Republican principle
Innocent life is always to be preserved, so crimes against innocent persons can never, under any circumstances, be justified. Thus, all forms of deliberate abortion, euthanasia, etc., must be illegal. There can be no exceptions. Period.

No. Really. Period. Done.

Quasi-Democrat principle:
While the state has the right to exercise the death penalty, that penalty should not be used if it can possibly be avoided. God is the giver of life. Since a criminal is one who makes war on the state and its citizens, we have to use the same principles in applying the death penalty that we use in the application of "just war." If we apply those principles, it is impossible to justify the death penalty in most cases.

Quasi-Republican principle
Marriage exists not only for the good of the spouses, but also for the good of procreating children. It follows both that (a) children have a right to grow up with their biological parents, and (b) parents have a duty to raise their children. For these and other reasons, homosexual "marriage" is a contradiction in terms.

Both parties like this:
It is legitimate to wage war, but only according to the principles of just war. Democrats got America into most of the last century's worth of wars, and Republicans have made sure the American war machine stayed funded. Both parties benefit from war. Unfortunately, neither party has ever shown great interest in restricting themselves to waging a just war.

Both parties hate this:
Contraception is an intrinsic evil and should not be permitted. However, contraception does not always directly take innocent life. As both St. Augustine and St. Thomas point out, in cases like this, the state may permit one evil in order to avoid a larger evil. For instance, the state may permit prostitution in order to avoid a greater violence. Since, as even Mahatma Gandhi recognized, contraception turns a woman into a prostitute, the state might permit legal contraception (i.e., legal prostitution) in order to avoid some other evil. Both of America's political parties want legal contraception, but they don't want anyone pointing out that they have thereby turned women into prostitutes.

Both parties SAY they like this, but both actually hate it:
Women must be respected.

Making contraception available turns them into prostitutes. Making abortion available turns them into accomplices to murder. Treating women like exchangeable prostitutes by engaging in serial divorce and re-marriage is likewise not respectful. Treating the vocation of mother as a trash job for someone too incompetent to make it in the business world is not respectful. Pretending that "male" and "female" are simply social constructs is not respectful. Electing politicians who treat the women around them in this way (all previous presidents in the last century except, perhaps, George W. Bush, please call your office. Hillary, get out from under the smears and coverups you have committed against your husband's rape victims and pick up the phone - this includes you.) is not respectful.


This is why Catholics hate both Trump and Clinton. Both candidates violate very basic principles of Catholic Faith. Hillary is the worst offender, because she calls for the murder of children. Trump is barely above her, for he calls for committing war crimes against innocent civilian families. But numerous additional violations in any number of subjects could be piled on.

America used to produce candidates who at least publicly pretended to stand behind principles that were recognizably Catholic. Today, both major parties have surrendered these principles. Catholics have no viable major party choice. Even Gary Johnson, of the Libertarian Party, essentially matches Hillary in his/her "murder-for-hire" attitude towards children.

Catholics have to get our heads around this fact: Barack Obama is correct.

With the 2016 presidential candidates, it is now clear we are no longer a Christian country.
Catholics do not now, and will not soon, have a viable presidential candidate to vote for. We have been, and will continue for the foreseeable future to be, living in Churchill's Wilderness Years. We simply cannot expect to see a viable candidate that Catholics can morally support for a long, long time.

1 comment:

Lee Gilbert said...


Well, last evening in the last presidential debate Trump made the most pro-life comment we have heard from any major political figure in a long time.

Catholic though I am, I do not, by the way, hate Trump, and I do morally support him.

Do I support everything he has said? No. Does he have a "position" that ISIS families should be killed? He says stuff, not always well thought out. Not everything that he says adds up to a position.

Nevertheless, too, however he may have reacted to the Pope, a Trump presidency would clearly be far better for our religious liberty, whereas a Clinton presidency is clearly a danger to the Church.

Moreover, I am convinced that he would be much better for the inner city by re-providing unskilled jobs, and better for working class America generally.

I know it sounds incredibly naive, but bear with me for a second. Would it not be possible in the remaining days of this electoral cycle to make Trump the Catholic candidate?

What do I mean? Simply, that we got behind him as Catholics. That we made him our guy.

On what basis? On the very thin basis that he is more Catholic than Clinton.

Yet, if we were manifestly to do so, if we were clearly to put him over the top, would he not be beholden to us? Would he not be more inclined to listen to us, say on tuition vouchers? Does not that make more sense simply as a political strategy than calling him a lout as did Abp Chaput? Where will that get us if he wins?

Beyond that though, by making him our guy I mean praying up a storm both for his conversion and for his election. Personally, I am doing just that.

He has grave moral faults and a dicey history, granted. So did St. Paul. He's a marginal Christian, granted. So was St. Augustine. What turned them around but prayer?

For the Church and for the United States of America, what is to be lost by taking this tack?

What would be wrong with such an approach as naive as it may seem at first blush? Do we not believe in the power of prayer?

I don't expect that the official church would embrace this idea, but pundits, bloggers, and etc? It seems possible.

My email is


Lee Gilbert