Too much of the political discourse during this election year “has demeaned women and marginalised people of faith,” says the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“Politicians, their staffs and volunteers should reflect our best aspirations as citizens,” said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky.
The archbishop’s statement came at the end of a week of fallout over controversies involving the presidential campaigns of Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
On October 9, NBC leaked a 2005 audio clip of Trump making lewd sexual remarks about women. Two days later, WikiLeaks released what it said was an email chain among top officials from Clinton’s campaign discussing how many powerful conservatives in North America are converts to Catholicism, which one email called “an amazing bastardisation of the faith.”
“At this important time in our nation’s history, I encourage all of us to take a moment to reflect on one of the founding principles of our republic — the freedom of religion,” Archbishop Kurtz said.
“There have been recent reports that some may have sought to interfere in the internal life of the Church for short-term political gain. If true, this is troubling both for the well-being of faith communities and the good of our country,” he said.
“As Catholics, we hold onto our beliefs because they come to us from Jesus, not a consensus forged by contemporary norms.”
He urged Catholics and all people of goodwill in the nation to be “good stewards of the precious rights we have inherited as citizens of this country.”
“We also expect public officials to respect the rights of people to live their faith without interference from the state. When faith communities lose this right, the very idea of what it means to be an American is lost,” he added.