I was recently asked by Time Magazine for my general opinion on Donald Trump, his relation to Catholic ideas and White Evangelicals and any other thoughts I might have. I was briefly quoted in Time. But I thought I would include here the parts of my remarks that were not used in the article as well.
Trump’s moral positions on life and sexual morality stray widely from Catholic moral and social teaching in many respects. I would also think that conservative Catholics would have problems with him especially on abortion.
He certainly did not endear himself to Catholics when he said the pope needed to be scared into action against ISIS especially the way he said it.
I cannot address the issue of Catholic-Republican organizing because I am not a Republican or for that matter, a member of any political party.
The more pertinent question regarding Trump and the experience of Catholics is that of populism and here Catholics have been on all sides of the question, in Argentina (Peron), and Italy (both Berlusconi and Mussolini) – so I suspect that today this would be the same.
Frankly, I cannot figure out the alleged white-evangelical attraction to Trump. To my ear, he simply is not one of them. He is obviously unfamiliar with the Bible and he does not speak in any evangelical dialect with which I am conversant. I would think that in the end, religious conservatives who haven’t aligned themselves with Trump will find themselves allied behind the alternative Republican option.
On the whole Trump thing I can offer this somewhat provocative thought, though it is hardly a distinctly Catholic idea:
For some time our body politic has been blocked and seems not to move anywhere. This blockage is made up of both a lack of philosophical understanding of the authentic roots of human freedom and a lack of courage to defend those roots. Now comes Donald Trump, who says some things that are refreshing and bold, who obviously does not speak from talking points but in the end, are neither substantial nor nourishing of a civil order. In this circumstance, the best one could hope for is that Trump will act like a strong physic one has to abide from time to time just to get things moving again. But that is not something one wants as a whole diet.