In America magazine, John Carr, director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, recently offered a Catholic case for voting Democrat. Carr would “vote for Mr Biden for what he can do to help us recover and heal, lift up those left behind, ensure health care for all and treat immigrants and refugees with respect. I will not vote for him to support his position on abortion, but in spite of it.”
On the Republicans, Carr said that, while they “promise pro-lifers anti-abortion judicial nominees, they often deliver judges who vote against voting rights, immigrant rights, workers’ rights, affirmative action and environmental justice”, adding that their conservative judges are still “often disappointing to the pro-lifers”.
He also said that Trump “seems to be consumed with himself, lacks empathy and will not accept responsibility. His language on women, people of colour, media, political adversaries and the military is crude and unacceptable. His dismissal, dishonesty and delayed response to Covid-19 brought deadly consequences for tens of thousands. He seems to view faith as a political tool, not a way of life; and his past and present behaviour seems to violate most of the Ten Commandments, especially ‘not bearing false witness’.”
Jayd Henricks, a former director of government relations at the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference, wrote a response to Carr in the same magazine, laying out his case for why he would not vote for Biden. Henricks said that not “until the Democratic Party feels the pain of losing the Catholic vote will they reconsider their commitment to attacks on religious freedom, the defence of the natural family, support for Catholic schools and other Catholic priorities”.
Henricks agreed with Carr that Trump was “compromised” with regard to his “character, integrity and competence to serve”, and noted that he was consequently “genuinely struggling with what to do this cycle”, having written in Senator Marco Rubio during the 2016 presidential election.
But he asked: “how is former vice president Biden much better on any of these questions? Someone who believes an unborn child is a life, as Mr Biden has said, yet wants to subsidise the killing of children seems to have fatally compromised his character, integrity and competence to serve. That should be self-evident.”
James O’Shea at Irish Central was less shy. He said he would be supporting Trump, who should be able to “safeguard millions of [babies’] lives by appointing pro-life judges to the Supreme Court”.
He also said Trump had “done a remarkable job keeping the country safe” at home and abroad and criticised the media’s “relentless assault” on him: “I’m not blind to his inadequacies but he is not the devil incarnate or the worst president ever.”
He added that the “handling of Covid-19 has been terrible and he should have left it to the medical experts from day one”. O’Shea insisted, though, that he would still prefer Trump to Joe Biden, describing the latter as “a creature of Washington for over 50 years who has never run a business and always lived off a government cheque and whose best days are long behind him.”
Sr Simone Campbell, SSS, executive director of Network, a national Catholic social justice lobby, said that “Catholics cannot be true to their faith and vote for Donald Trump in November.”
“Every day, I see the cracks in our nation’s foundational values growing wider,” she said. “President Trump is doing everything in his power to divide us, while our economy and health care systems collapse under the weight of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is a spiritual crisis, and our faith and patriotism compel us to speak and to act.”
Citing comments by Pope Francis on the sin of racism, Sr Campbell said “President Trump promotes racism,” and that “this evil cannot be ignored” because “dismantling racism in our country must be a foundational part of any pro-life agenda”.
“In this time of crisis we are called to speak clearly,” she added. “Catholics cannot support another presidential term for Donald Trump and be true to their faith.”
Fr Stephen Imbarrato, a pro-life activist from Red Rose Rescues, struck out in the opposite direction, arguing on LifeSite that Joe Biden’s stances on life issues and marriage meant Catholics were duty bound not to vote for him.
The priest said he was “begging Catholics not to risk the grave sin of scandal by supporting this man with their vote”.
Fr Imbarrato added that not voting for Biden was “not about Trump” because a “Catholic can’t vote for Biden whether they feel in good conscience that they can or can’t vote for Trump”.