Sunday the 7th of March

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“We need a respectful, mutual listening, free of ideology and predetermined agendas.” Pope Francis, Let us Dream, December 2020

As outrage over lewd comments piles up, Trump struggles among Catholics

Hours before the presidential debate began on 9th October, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani invoked St Augustine of Hippo on a Sunday morning political news show to defend the man he was supporting for president.

“Ever read The Confessions’ of St Augustine?” Giuliani asked John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation, referring to the autobiographical book about St Augustine’s sinful past and his subsequent conversion. “Men can change, people can change.”

Hours later, Donald Trump, the embattled Republican presidential nominee he was defending, was defiant in St Louis during the second of three presidential debates against Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton. Trump spent the weekend dealing with public backlash, including watching members of his own party withdraw endorsements for his presidency following the release of various video and audio recordings where he is heard making lewd comments about women. In one of the recordings, Trump, who had been married for months to his third wife at the time of the incident, speaks of his intention to have sex with a different married woman.

Giuliani, who said that as a Catholic he understood contrition and the resolve to do better after a person has done something wrong, seemed like the lone political voice defending Trump. Republican House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, a Catholic, said he was “sickened” by Trump’s comments and withdrew his invitation from their first event together in Wisconsin and said a day after the debate that he “won’t defend” his party’s candidate.

Others said they felt they had no other option but to stick with Trump.

“I think his comments are utterly disgusting, but I have no other choice than to vote for him,” said Gail Buckley, who attended a meeting of the Catholic Leadership Conference in Denver in early October, where Trump sent a letter to Catholics gathered there saying: ‘I will be there for you. I will stand with you. I will fight for you’ on pro-life and other issues.

Picture: Republican US presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speak during their presidential town hall debate at Washington University in St Louis on 9th October. (CNS photo/Jim Young, Reuters).