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

Religious, lay leaders react to Trump win in presidential election

Lay and religious leaders of all stripes have reacted to news of Donald J. Trump’s upset win in the presidential election on 8th November.

Most expressed hope that Trump would pay attention to their agenda, while others were more decidedly downbeat and still others counselled prayer.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the US bishops’ conference, outlined an ambitious agenda in a postelection statement that congratulated Trump and all election victors on 9th November.

“The bishops’ conference looks forward to working with President-elect Trump to protect human life from its most vulnerable beginning to its natural end. We will advocate for policies that offer opportunity to all people, of all faiths, in all walks of life,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

“We are firm in our resolve that our brothers and sisters who are migrants and refugees can be humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security. We will call attention to the violent persecution threatening our fellow Christians and people of other faiths around the world, especially in the Middle East. And we will look for the new administration’s commitment to domestic religious liberty, ensuring people of faith remain free to proclaim and shape our lives around the truth about man and woman, and the unique bond of marriage that they can form.”

Archbishop Kurtz added, “Now is the moment to move toward the responsibility of governing for the common good of all citizens. I believe God will give us the strength to heal and unite,” he said, referring to a need to bridge the divides created in the country by such a contentious election.

Other bishops also commented on the result:

After Trump clinched the Electoral College majority early on 9th November, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston tweeted, ‘Congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump. May God grant you good health, wisdom and courage during your presidency.’

“Regardless of who received our vote, now is the time to be reminded that the strength of our republic lies in our unity as fellow citizens and members of God’s holy family,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Raleigh, North Carolina, in a statement on 9th November. “Such relationships are the bedrock of our society and it is our sacred duty to foster them so that nothing divides us. When we live in such harmony, there will be true dialogue and the exchange of ideas will occur in a civil and respectful manner.”

Bishop David A. Zubik of Pittsburgh issued a brief statement on 9th November: “As an American and as a Catholic bishop, I want to assure President-elect Donald Trump of my prayers and those of all faithful Catholics in the Diocese of Pittsburgh as he prepares to lead our country. Likewise, I wish to assure our newly elected or re-elected federal, state and local legislators that we will pray for them to protect and defend human life, dignity, justice, peace, religious freedom and the common good.”

As well as this, pro-life groups and climate groups issued their response to the result.

“We are delighted that tonight’s election results reflect America’s pro-life consensus in the House, Senate and presidency. We applaud candidates that took a stand on the most critical human rights issue of today, abortion,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life.

“We congratulate President-elect Trump on his hard-fought win, as well Vice President-elect Pence, and our friends in Congress,” Mancini added. “We look forward to working together to fulfill President-elect Trump’s campaign promises to ensure pro-life Supreme Court justices, pro-life policies, and defunding America’s primary abortion provider, Planned Parenthood.”

“This vote shows a deeply divided nation and a distrust with our government and other institutions. Let the Catholic community be the one institution – following the example of Pope Francis – to be a place of safety to discuss common concerns and a place where all are welcome,” said a statement from the Catholic Climate Covenant on 9th November.

“Catholic Climate Covenant will work hard to be a space where issues of protecting our common home can be discussed. And we will continue to be vigilant and active in making the case that, “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience,” the statement added, quoting Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.

Meanwhile, Scott Reed, executive director of the PICO National Network, which was founded by a California priest, said that the Network is committed to “dialoguing with those who think differently and will attempt to engage President-elect Trump”.

“President-Elect Trump should be forewarned that our faith will not allow us to permit him to fulfill his promise to criminalise immigrants by conducting mass deportations, or sit idly in the face of racial profiling of African-Americans, Latinos and religious minorities,” he said in a statement on 9th November.

And John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, expressed his disappointment.

“I’m struggling to find the words to process the fact that a bully who vowed to ban Muslims from our country, boasts about sexual assault, demonises immigrants and called Pope Francis ‘disgraceful’ was elected,” he said in a statement on 9th November.

“As a Christian and a father of young children, I’m anguished. But as a Christian, I’m also committed to walking the hard road of faith and hope,” Gehring added. “I don’t understand Catholics who supported Trump, but there is too much at stake not to work for common ground and the common good.”

Picture: President-elect Donald Trump delivers his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in Manhattan in the early morning hours of 9th November. (CNS photo/Shawn Thew, EPA).