Donald Trump’s victory in the US election has provoked much commentary, official and unofficial, in the Catholic world over the last few hours.
Cardinal Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, said (Zenit translation): “I think, first of all, we must note with respect the will expressed by the American people in this exercise of democracy that they tell me was also characterised by a large turnout. And then we give our best wishes to the new president, so that his government can be really fruitful.
“And also we assure him of our prayers, so that the Lord may enlighten him and support him in service of his country, and of course, also in serving the well-being and peace in the world. I think that today there is a need for everyone to work to change the world’s situation, that is one of severe laceration of serious conflict. ”
Fr Daniel Horan tweeted that theologians faced a moral challenge:
To my fellow US theologians: our work is before us. I fear this may become our Bonhoeffer moment. May God give us strength.
— Daniel P. Horan, OFM (@DanHoranOFM) November 9, 2016
But Fr Kevin Cusick said the result was good news for Catholics:
Now that Catholics have a friend in the White House let's make the Church great again.
— Father Kevin Cusick (@MCITLFrAphorism) November 9, 2016
Trump supporter John Zmirak welcomed the result and hoped Trump would follow Christian policies:
— John Zmirak (@JZmirak) November 9, 2016
Elsewhere, Catholic commentators looked on the coming Trump era with some trepidation. In the New York Times, Ross Douthat said Trump was “more likely to fail catastrophically than other presidents, more constitutionally dangerous than other presidents, but also more likely to carry us into a different political era, a post-neoliberal, post-end-of-history politics”. Trump won thanks to a “crude genius” which appealed to voters who foresaw “a sustainable stagnation under the tutelage of a distant and self-satisfied elite”. If his skills could not be turned “to the common good”, wrote Douthat, he must be resisted.
In The Week, Michael Brendan Dougherty noted the challenges facing Trump: the country’s stark divisions, and a series of dangerous foreign policy dilemmas. In any case, Trump had brought to an end the “era of good-hearted policy experts and wonks who would twist the knobs of government regulations and subsidies by a few microns, trying to nudge us to marginally higher heights of gross national satisfaction, defined in the most coldly utilitarian terms”. Trump was at the head of a movement which he might not even “truly understand.”
Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute interpreted the vote as a major blow to progressive politics:
— Samuel Gregg (@DrSamuelGregg) November 9, 2016
The Princeton professor Robert George saw the vote as a judgment on Barack Obama:
Who would have dreamed that Barack Obama’s legacy would be Donald J. Trump?
— Robert P. George (@McCormickProf) November 9, 2016
Chad Pecknold, professor at the Catholic University of America, said it was time to abandon political Messianism:
Here’s the thing: Trump is not the first “celebrity” president. He’s the second. Stop treating politicians as saviors and demons.
— C. C. Pecknold (@ccpecknold) November 9, 2016
The writer Maggie Gallagher said the white working-class vote had been crucial:
"This was a whitelash against changing country" Van Jones.This is a whitelash by folks lectured they enjoy unfair privilege they can't see.
— Maggie Gallagher (@MaggieGallaghe) November 9, 2016
Thinking of Hillary Clinton’s policies on religious freedom, Philip Lawler of Catholic Culture expressed his disappointment at the result:
One (only?) negative of Hillary’s loss: my chances for glorious martyrdom decrease.
— Philip Lawler (@PhilLawler) November 9, 2016
Meanwhile, the author Ryan Anderson said Trump could protect the Little Sisters of the Poor from prosecution:
With one stroke of a pen @realDonaldTrump can get rid of the HHS mandate and fully and finally protect the Little Sisters and many others.
— Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanTAnd) November 9, 2016
In England, Bishop Philip Egan of Portsmouth tweeted:
What an extraordinary US election result! Let us ask the Holy Spirit to guide President-elect Trump especially these next few months.
— Bishop Philip Egan (@BishopEgan) November 9, 2016
Joseph Shaw, chairman of the Latin Mass Society, said Trump was riding “a wave of dissatisfaction which the political establishment is ideologically incapable of addressing. The Church could address it, Shaw suggested, because “Catholicism is a real solution to real problems which people have. It fills holes in people’s lives, like the longing for the spiritual and the transcendent.” But “It is not enough for Catholic evangelists that the world is longing for the things which the Church alone can provide. We have to find ways of getting it across that she does indeed provide them.”
Philip Booth, Professor of Finance, Public Policy and Ethics at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham, told the Catholic Herald that US foreign policy was now: “shrouded in uncertainty. However, policy has been so erratic under Presidents Bush and Obama that, in a sense, this is no change. The real concern has to be with the international dimension of economic policy. Both candidates in the presidential election wanted to roll back the process of globalisation that has done so much to lift poor countries out of poverty and which has generally increased the incomes of the least-well-off in rich countries.
“Globalisation and free trade need champions and, if the US administration does not champion free trade, then the UK, Canada, Australia and continental European governments must step up to the plate. Popular movements against free trade are strong in Germany and France as well as in the US. We must not repeat the mistakes of the 1930s.”