QUOTE TO NOTE: U.S. Bishops Were Virtually Silent on Trump

computer_key_Quotation_MarksIn a scathing essay which excoriates Catholics who supported Donald Trump for U.S. President, Boston College theologian Stephen Pope also took to task U.S. bishops who were mum about so many of Candidate Trump’s statements which were directly opposed to Catholic teaching, particularly social teaching.

In a particularly strong passage, Pope compares the bishops’ reluctance to speak out against Trump with their loud and strong rhetoric about marriage equality and religious liberty.  In his Commonweal essay entitled “Not the Time for Reconciliation: First Confront the Danger of Trump,” he states:

Donald Trump

“. . .American bishops showed a stunning lack of leadership at a time when it was needed most. Some bishops publically expressed concern with Trump’s description of Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers. To their credit, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Bishop Kevin Farrell, and some other bishops expressed public concern over Trump’s immigrant-bashing rhetoric, but they did not offer a direct and sustained criticism of the substance and tone of his campaign as a whole. . . . Yet no bishop had the courage of Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore to denounce Trump in no uncertain terms as a ‘walking affront to the Gospels.’ Most obtuse was Archbishop Charles Chaput’s assessment of both major-party candidates as ‘equally problematic.’ Truly problematic are prelates who raise their voices against same-sex marriage, but not against overt racism and misogyny. Or bishops who defend the religious liberty of Catholic institutions regarding contraception, but not the freedom of persecuted Muslim refugees who wish to immigrate to our shores.

“In his post-election statement, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, outgoing president of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that he ‘looks forward to working President-elect Trump’ on issues of life, immigration and refugees, religious persecution, and marriage. Kurtz said nothing about poverty or climate change—concerns Pope Francis has made central to his papacy.

To read the entire essay, click here.

–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry, November 28, 2016

19 replies
  1. Patrick Gallagher
    Patrick Gallagher says:

    The bishops have no shame! They are truly a disappointment in their leadership skills in this very critical election of Trump. It isno wonder that the millenials stay away from the Church and as a senior I feel they have failed the faithful in every respect. The evangelicals showed their lack of morality and I think the same can be said for the American bishops. A very depressing fact for the Church!

  2. Thomas
    Thomas says:

    I have often said that the USCCB is the half sister of the republican party. The pastor at our church explicitly told people from the pulpit that the only choice was to oppose the candidate who was “in favor of late term abortion” , This was a very deceptive take on Mrs. Clinton’s statement. She certainly did not say she favored the procedure. This was dishonest of the priest.
    I applaud Mr. Pope’s essay and am printing it to give to our parish priest.

  3. amagjuka
    amagjuka says:

    I am at an all time low in my relationship with the institutional church. There is a stunning lack of leadership and empathy by those who are supposed to embody and model Catholicism “for the masses.” No mention of our obligation to the immigrant and “the other” while vile racism, misogyny, and authoritarian zeal was being fomented in this election? Now, no mention of the Nazi leanings of Bannon? It is too much. I am Catholic by virtue of my baptism. The mass itself does not discriminate or seek power instead truth. But too many parishes have been bastardized by the alt right leanings of the American Catholic bishops. I am disgusted. I will go to mass, but I will also attend a local church that is actively engaged with spreading the gospel and the love that it requires. That love manifests itself in inclusion, gentle support, and working tirelessly for justice for all.

    • Chuck thomas
      Chuck thomas says:

      Here it is nearly two years later, and your comments are virtually as appropriate as they were then. The bishops have lately criticized and opposed individual policies of Trump, but it’s a little late for that, in my opinion.

  4. John Hilgeman
    John Hilgeman says:

    I sometimes wonder what the purpose of bishops as a whole is. It is apparently not the role of prophet, though some have been prophets. It seems not to be the role of teaching the Gospels of Jesus – who made clear that caring for the least was his emphasis. It is not addressing the moral imperatives of the day – the fate of the earth, the corruption of wealth, the evils of patriarchy, the exploitation of the poor, the right to health care, the concern for society’s marginalized, the danger of the rise of fascism, racism, sexism, Islamophobia in our midst – though a few have spoken out on these issues and on the reaction against immigrants. For the most part, the role of bishops seems to have been reduced to running institutions and writing pious articles; and condemning abortions, and coverage for birth control, and women who dare to be ordained and the relationships of same gender couples; and condemning the recognition and existence of transgender people. This is not to say that bishops are not good men. It is to say that with the major issues that face our country and world today, they are for the most part silent. In other words, Catholic bishops in our country today are for the most part, not leaders. And maybe that is okay. They are, after all, only a tiny minority of the Church. And even Peter was a coward at times. If they will not be leaders, it is up to the rest of us to be the leaders who confront the dangers without them.

  5. Tom Bower
    Tom Bower says:

    I take exception that most current bishops are good men. To borrow a phrase “Silence equals Death”. Most have a coward’s political sense. Their job is to be leaders and defend their flocks, particularly those who are least in the eyes of the world. They wear red to remind them or the martyrdom that their predecessors earned. As late as half a century ago Catholic bishops were leaders in the civil rights movement, but today they sit on the sidelines even when Pope Francis encourages them to mix with their flocks.

    Like so many who say everyone should try to work with the Trump administration that he might not be as bad as what he says, we should not be duped into being fellow travelers. His appointments (even when he has walked back on a few nasty statements) show that his minions will put together an administration of hate. They should be challenged at every juncture

    The Advent season should not be a time for patient waiting in anticipation of the coming of Christ, but a quickening of our passion to bring His message to the world. Christ has been born, now is our time to live the life he modeled. If the bishops won’t stand up, all Christians are commissioned in the same way to be priest and prophets. Let’s use Advent to be a rally leading up to going forward with even more vigor.

  6. Thomas Smith
    Thomas Smith says:

    Perhaps with some guidance from our bishops, the 52% of American Catholics who voted for Trump would have remembered what Pope Francis said, “Anyone who builds walls is not a Christian.” Christ is crucified again. But we shall rise in His name, speak the Truth with courage and respect the enemies of LOVE as best we can.

  7. amagjuka
    amagjuka says:

    We are called to love everyone, even the alt right. I will use the advent season to meditate on this. I will look for ways to see each person with an open mind while refusing to capitulate to injustice or bigotry. I will try to use quiet insistence on the principles that make our country great: freedom of speech and expression, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, justice for all. I will double down on my social justice Catholicism. I will honor the core values of reverence for life from conception to death. I will love God. I will continue to prayerfully listen to the Holy Spirit and act when I know I am being called and challenged to do so. I will seek to respectfully but firmly insist on the freedoms our country guarantees, and will speak up in my day to day interactions if I see examples of bigotry or injustice. I will be part of the field hospital that Pope Francis has identified as the proper Catholic response to pain, loneliness and suffering. It’s a lot to consider. Advent came just in time.

    • Thomas Smith
      Thomas Smith says:

      excellent. Maintain you peace, but speak the truth of love. Its the only way we will RISE from the filth of President Trump.

  8. Thomas Smith
    Thomas Smith says:

    Maybe if our bishops spoke out with real, fearless Christian leadership, 52 percent of American Catholics would not have voted for hatred and intolerance. USCCB had a moral responsibility to remind us that Pope Francis said – in no uncertain terms – (responding to a question about Donald Trump) “Anyone who builds wall is not a Christian.”

  9. Larry
    Larry says:

    There should be no honeymoon for Trump and not just because the Republicans gave none for Obama but because we cannot allow this to be just another regular transfer of power. Trump is NOT the new normal and we cannot never forget that like the Bishops have.

    GREG SMITH says:

    Once again, all the Republican candidate had to do was say, not even very convincingly, the magic words “I’m against abortion too” and all flaws, some very horrible, were overlooked.

    “When will they ever learn, when will they ever learn?”


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  1. […] worst of all, the U.S. bishops were nearly silent about harmful remarks by then-candidate Donald Trump that targeted minorities and other vulnerable […]

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