CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 22 July 2017

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Sign of the times in United States election

HONG KONG (SE): “All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity,” Pope Francis told the United States Congress in September last year.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops repeated the papal statement in a press release issued on November 9, after Donald Trump was declared president-elect of the nation. The bishops also note that millions of Americans voted for an opportunity for their families.

“Our response should be simple; we hear you. The responsibility to help strengthen families belongs to each of us,” the bishops stress.

The bishops say they look forward to working with Trump to protect life from its most vulnerable beginning to its natural end and to offer policies to help all people receive an opportunity in life.

However, on the sticky topic of migrants and refugees, which lobbyists have already begun working on to find a way of stopping Trump from fulfilling his promise to put them all in a boat out to sea, the bishops simply say they are sure a way can be found that does not threaten national security.

The bishops call on people to pray that their leaders in public life may rise to their responsibilities.

In a breakdown of how people voted on a religion basis, Catholics came out heavily for Trump, as did Protestants and other people from Christian faiths. Those who profess no specific faith or a non-Christian one, however, were heavily on the side of the Democrat, Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times reported that this is a marked change from 2012, where Catholics backed Barack Obama, although narrowly. 

The paper’s exit poll showed an even bigger Republican vote for Trump among Evangelicals, 81 per cent, as against 16 per cent for Clinton.

Although Clinton did bring home the bacon from Catholics that do not go to Church often, she received an even stronger vote from those who never go at all.

But the Trump victory can well be seen as a sign of the times.

As a sexist, xenophobic Muslim-basher, Trump is a natural in a world that has seen Brexit in Britain, where people felt they were being left out, and the election of a populist president like Rodrigo Duterte in The Philippines, who played on this sense of alienation among his people.

Despite the fact that populist politicians have few or no credible policies, they represent hope to a people who have lost hope in a money dominated, stifled political system that does not administer the common wealth for the common good of the common people.

History has lessons as well, as the early 1930s in Europe saw populist politicians play on the fears and feelings of rejection among the people, and ended up causing extreme and terrible damage in the whole world.

While Trump may rail against globalisation, in fact it has brought great benefits to the world and been developing for over 2,000 years, but the wealthy have manipulated it in their tax avoidance schemes to bring great poverty and widespread misery to millions of people.

It badly needs cleaning up and this is exactly what Trump promised to do—reminiscent of Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural speech saying, “With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.”

Australian commentator, John Menadue, makes an interesting comment, noting the failure of the media to help prepare and equip people to face the challenges presented in a fast changing world.

He describes today’s media as being derivative, as it does not inquire, investigate or comment independently, but simply feed off the press releases of those who control the information flow and regurgitate the propaganda of the political elite.

The Vatican secretary of state, Petro Cardinal Parolin, said he respects the will of the American people.

On the day before the election, Pope Francis told La Stampa that he would judge whoever became president on their treatment of immigrants and refugees, saying that he does not judge, but wants to understand the suffering their approach causes to the poor and excluded.

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