US presidential election offers the worst choice in 50 years, says archbishop

Archbishop Charles J Chaput of Philadelphia said neither candidate inspired him (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

Archbishop Charles J Chaput of Philadelphia said neither candidate inspired him (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

by Catholic News Service
posted Friday, 16 Sep 2016

Archbishop Charles Chaput said the two major candidates were ‘deeply flawed’ in a lecture at the University of Notre Dame

In his 50 years of voting in US elections, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J Chaput has said he has never seen the two major parties offer “two such deeply flawed” presidential nominees “at the same time”.

Without naming the nominees – Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton – the archbishop said he presumed they “intend well and have a reasonable level of personal decency behind their public images, but I also believe that each candidate is very bad news for our country, though in different ways.

“One candidate, in the view of a lot of people, is a belligerent demagogue with an impulse control problem,” he said in a speech at the University of Notre Dame. “And the other, also in the view of a lot of people, is a criminal liar, uniquely rich in stale ideas and bad priorities.”

Archbishop Chaput delivered the 2016 Tocqueville lecture on religious liberty, sponsored by the school’s Tocqueville Program for Inquiry Into Religion and Public Life.

His wide-ranging talk also addressed the moral threats facing society, the necessity of strong families, and the controversy surrounding Notre Dame and its awarding of the Laetare Medal to Vice President Joe Biden.

Though faced with flawed presidential candidates, he said, Catholics and other Christians do not have “the luxury of cynicism”, because if they “leave the public square, other people with much worse intentions won’t.”

Many “honest public officials” are currently serving our country well, and both parties have “good candidates for other public offices,” he added, offering other reasons not to be cynical.

Christians “have a duty to leave the world better than we found it,” the archbishop said. “One of the ways we do that, however imperfectly, is through politics.”

“Elections do matter,” he said, emphasising that the next president will likely appoint several Supreme Court justices. One seat is vacant, with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, and the oldest of the current justices are Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83, and Anthony Kennedy, 80.

The next president will “make vital foreign policy decisions, and shape the huge federal administrative machinery in ways over which Congress has little control,” Archbishop Chaput said.

Instead of whining or wringing our hands over the current state of politics and the feeling citizens have no say in “the big mechanical Golem we call Washington,” Archbishop Chaput said, the situation demands “we be different people” and change the country by changing ourselves.

The nation’s future depends on strengthening traditional family life and Church life, the archbishop said, and rejecting secular society’s mores of casual sex, adultery and divorce, abortion, selfishness, instant gratification and sexual confusion.

The future, he said, “belongs to people who believe in something beyond themselves, and who live and sacrifice accordingly. It belongs to people who think and hope inter-generationally.”

In his 46 years as a priest and hearing countless confessions, he has observed a “huge spike in people – both men and women – confessing promiscuity, infidelity, sexual violence and sexual confusion as an ordinary part of life, and the massive role of pornography in wrecking marriages, families and even the vocations of clergy and religious.”

Along with that, he said, has been the “media nonsense about the innocence of casual sex and the ‘happy’ children of friendly divorces.” The result “is a dysfunctional culture of frustrated and wounded people increasingly incapable of permanent commitments, self-sacrifice and sustained intimacy, and unwilling to face the reality of their own problems.”

He said that “weak and selfish individuals make weak and selfish marriages” that in turn make “broken families,” which “continue and spread the cycle of dysfunction” by “creating more and more wounded individuals.”

“The family is where children discover how to be human … how to respect and love other people,” he said, adding that “social costs rise” when “healthy marriages and families decline.”

While single parents deserve praise for the “heroic job” they do, he said, “only a mother and father can provide the intimacy of maternal and paternal love.”

“Only a mother and father can offer the unique kind of human love rooted in flesh and blood; the kind that comes from mutual submission and self-giving; the kind that comes from the complementarity of sexual difference,” he said.

Parents aren’t perfect, he said, and too often modern American life “encourages them to fail.” He also acknowledged many pressures on families come from outside the home, like unemployment, low pay, crime, poor housing, chronic illness and bad schools.

Strong families and churches “stand between the individual and the state,” Archbishop Chaput said.

“They protect the autonomy of the individual by hemming in the power of government, resisting its tendency to claim the entirety of life. But they also pull us out of ourselves and teach us to engage generously with others.”

In the US “marriage, family and traditional religion all seem to be failing and … support for democracy itself has dropped,” he said. None of that has happened overnight, he said.

The current situation, he said, has been fuelled “by a collection of lies” over the issue of abortion.

“No issue has made us more dishonest and less free as believers and as a nation than abortion,” he explained. “People uncomfortable with the abortion issue argue, quite properly, that Catholic teaching is bigger than just one issue. Other urgent issues also need our attention. Being pro-birth is not the same as being pro-life. And being truly ‘pro-life’ doesn’t end with defending the unborn child.”

He said: “In every abortion, an innocent life always dies. This is why no equivalence can ever exist between the intentional killing involved in abortion, infanticide and euthanasia on the one hand, and issues like homelessness, the death penalty and anti-poverty policy on the other.”

Archbishop Chaput noted the criticism Notre Dame received for awarding its Laetare Medal to Biden, a Catholic who supports keeping abortion legal. Former House Speaker John Boehner, a pro-life Catholic, also was a recipient.

The men were honoured for their public service, the university said at the time.

“For the nation’s leading Catholic university to honour a Catholic public official (Biden) who supports abortion rights and then goes on to conduct a same-sex civil marriage ceremony just weeks later, is – to put it kindly – a contradiction of Notre Dame’s identity. It’s a baffling error of judgment,” the archbishop said.

Notre Dame “really is still deeply Catholic,” he added, which is what the Catholic Church needs and what is necessary to create people who can change the country.

The church needs “a university that radiates the glory of God in age that no longer knows what it means to be human,” he said. “What the people of God need now is a university that fuses the joy of Francis with the brilliance of Benedict and the courage, fidelity and humanity of the great John Paul.” (Source)

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19 Responses to US presidential election offers the worst choice in 50 years, says archbishop

  1. Roger says:

    Actually what is needed now is REPARATION and a Legion of VICTIM SOULS.

  2. johnhenrycn says:

    His Excellency has received some negative press of late from certain quarters in Catholic media; but this lecture is a brilliant summary of Catholic political thought and responsibility, and I thank CP&S for bringing it to our attention. I intend to print and keep a hard copy of the whole address.

  3. Maggie says:

    His comments are not helping. At least one party has the most pro-life platform ever compared to the one with the most pro-death platform ever.

  4. johnhenrycn says:

    Eh? Granted, the GOP platform is commendable from a pro-life perspective, but La Trumpet is an enthusiastic supporter of contraception, of making access to contraceptive products as open as possible. On the September 15 episode of The Dr. Oz Show, he said: “I think what we have in birth control is, you know, when you have to get a prescription, that’s a pretty tough something to climb. And I would say it should not be a prescription, it should not be done by prescription.”

    You do realize, I hope, that many contraceptive products are abortifacients.

  5. johnhenrycn says:

    I hazard a guess that ++Chaput intends to vote for Trump and for the House and Senate GOP candidates in his district.

  6. johnhenrycn says:

    The Trumpet is a deeply stupid, ignorant, inarticulate blowhard – not quite as loathsome as his lesbian rival, but only because he’s a smidgen less of a liar than she. I wish them both a world of pain. In this world, that is.

  7. Archbishop Chaput seems to leave one with the impression that not to vote for either candidate in the upcoming presidential election would be O.K., since both candidates are problematic. Conversely, Cardinal Burke has very strongly expressed the view that Catholics cannot sit out this election but must vote for the less offensive candidate and most helpful political party on important moral issues. At this time that means vote Republican and vote for Trump. Not voting means one less vote for Trump, and that means doing your part to promote the most aggressive anti-life political party( Democratic) and pro homosexual agenda US President possible. Third party or write-in
    candidates have no chance of winning and would waste your vote which could help elect the most acceptable candidate and party….which in this election is the Republican party and Trump.

  8. Toad says:

    “I wish them both a world of pain. In this world, that is.
    Spoken like a true Catholic, JH.

  9. johnhenrycn says:

    Tic Toc Toad: Like a clock, you’re so predictable in your sniffy dismissal of true Catholicism.“World of pain” can mean a whole bunch of things. For example, at Mass today I prayed for my worldly life to be devastated, if that’s what’s necessary to gain Heaven, which it may be.

    Couldn’t really understand the Gospel reading though. It’s a tough one.

  10. Tom Fisher says:

    Archbishop Chaput seems to leave one with the impression that not to vote for either candidate in the upcoming presidential election would be O.K

    There are more than two candidates in the upcoming presidential election.

  11. “There are more than two candidates in the upcoming presidential election.”

    ” Third party or write-in
    candidates have no chance of winning and would waste your vote which could help elect the most acceptable candidate and party….which in this election is the Republican party and Trump.”

  12. Tom Fisher says:

    Cardinal Burke has very strongly expressed the view that Catholics cannot sit out this election but must vote for the less offensive candidate and most helpful political party on important moral issues. At this time that means vote Republican and vote for Trump.

    This is a mistake. The last, desperate argument for a conservative case for voting for Mr Trump has been that he would be more likely to appoint conservatives to the supreme court. Trump himself has used this line in his stump speeches. There is no reason to think that it is true. Donald Trump is demonstrably not a conviction politician. His political positions are determined by two factors: 1.) what is most likely to advance his self-aggrandizement, 2.) what will allow him to score points in personal feuds. — Those two factors have determined his entire public life. A few months ago Trump teased Paul Ryan by withholding his endorsement of him, as an act of pure spite. If Trump was President he would regard the Supreme Court as nothing but a negotiating tactic. — He would happily appoint a liberal to simply spite a Congressional leader who had offended him.
    For much of his adult life Trump has been a pro-choice registered Democrat — but even that fact doesn’t capture what he really is. — Trump believes in nothing. Nothing. Don’t trust him on moral issues

  13. Toad says:

    Whatever the result, America will get the President it richly deserves.

  14. Tom Fisher says:

    Whatever the result, America will get the President it richly deserves

    Very droll. I’m sure you’re far to fond of the US to remotely mean that🙂

  15. johnhenrycn says:

    Tom: Your dissection of Trump’s character is a good one. I wonder whether, in the final analysis, he is still be a better choice for America than Clinton who is 100% guaranteed to stack the Supreme Court and other key positions with progressive liberals, whereas Mr Art of the Deal is more likely to nominate conservative jurists provided his back is scratched.

    Toad: America will indeed get its just deserts, but as Tom says, you probably mean that in the kindest possible way. Probably. For my part, if Clinton is elected, I hope that her watch will be a good for the country whatever my personal feelings are about her, which aren’t going to change.

  16. Toad says:

    America is in for a bloody and horrific train wreck, what ever happens. I
    In the fairly recent past, when the country was less insane, it might have been hoped, even expected, that folk would unite behind the democratically elected leader and try work with him (or her) to improve everyone’s lives. (Except those of the blacks of course,)
    What will happen in November is that half the electorate, through frustration and hate, will vow to go to whatever possible lengths to ensure the downfall and failure of the winner,
    And the hell with the nation in the process. You will see.

  17. Trump is not running for President the way Clinton is , and that means he does not have a life-long aggressive agenda which is aimed at removing any remaining semblance of Religious freedom, and advancing the anti-life and pro-homosexual power movement. (BTW Clinton’s property development deals were suspected as well.) Trump actually likes America and has a stated interest in restoring what was good in it. Clinton, like Obama who wants to “change” America into something else, has open hostility towards the basic common sense of maintaining safety, order, and the Judeo-Christian values upon which the United States was founded.
    Trump while ready for canonization, but has shown definite signs of conversion, openness to people who point out the faultiness of some of his ideas, and hope that he might continue on that track. He also has managed to make some good friends in the party such as Dr. Ben Carson.
    Trumps’ personality has been described by his beloved daughter, Ivanka as “an equal opportunity offender”,
    but the good thing about that is that you do not have to guess what he is thinking about you. He has demonstrated that he is capable of burying the hatchet and forming lasting friendships. His brand of aggression is not atypical in NYC , where he has entertained as well as endeared many people to himself over the years. He is new to political office and to succeed for our country, he will need the help of experienced friends in the Republican Party; my hope is that he is a true “diamond in the rough” and my prayers and vote are with him.

  18. Toad says:

    Neither Trump nor Clinton are the slightest iota interested in ether religion or abortion, except as vote getters. Both will trim their sails to catch any favourable breeze on either subject. It might be said that Trump is less hypocritical than Hillary because he doesn’t even pretend any interest in the subjects, while she affects to, being careful to be regularly pictured going to church clutching her Bible.
    The fact is, no openly “non-religious” candidate, no matter how well qualified, decent, intelligent, and honest – can hope be President these “secular” days. Later, maybe. Very much later.
    Right now, it’s best simply to make the “right” noises re abortion – which are those which will garner the most votes. No more to it than that. And the opinion polls tell them which way to go.
    At present, Hillary clearly thinks it’s more profitable to be pro abortion. That might persuade Trump it’s a good idea to go the other way.
    But, if the numbers say she’s made the right call, he will quickly follow suit.

  19. johnhenrycn says:

    Good comment Toad. Your best here since July 4th, 2010.

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