Please consider this post a quick follow-up on this morning's blog item about a Washington Post story on the pain and confusion that is setting in for many doctrinally conservative Evangelical Protestants facing the choice of voting for Hillary Rodham Clinton or Citizen Donald Trump.
This is a religion story, of course. The more seriously one takes centuries of church teachings on moral theology and life issues -- the whole spectrum of issues from abortion to the dignity of every human person (including immigrants) -- the more painful this White House race gets.
So how do you think conservative members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are feeling right about now? How long can they remain all but silent?
With that in mind, let me point readers toward a think piece that ran over at Crux, under this headline: "Trump v. Clinton matchup has Catholic leaders scrambling." The key to this story is that it shows, once again, how hard it is (#DUH) to pin conventional political labels on the teachings of the Catholic Church (and my own Orthodox Church, for that matter).
Readers get to hear people from rather different political perspectives say some remarkably compatible things, in terms of doctrine. That's a compliment.
So, let's try pin-the-label on the quote, shall we? Which quote is from the Catholic left, which is from the Catholic right and which one is actually from a Protestant who is frequently involved in dialogues with Catholic leaders?
I. “A white American Christian who disregards nativist language is in for a shock. ... The man on the throne in heaven is a dark-skinned, Aramaic-speaking “foreigner” who is probably not all that impressed by chants of ‘Make America great again!’ ”
II. “Until recently Trump was publicly pro-abortion and a major financier of the enemies of the Church. ... His character and moral judgement remain suspect. He denigrates and ridicules his opponents, and has no foundational principles from which he proposes to govern.”
And finally there is this one:
III. “Trump is shamelessly using racial resentment, fear, and hatred -- always dangerously present in our society -- to fuel a movement against ‘the other,’ targeting other races, women, cultures, ethnicities, nations, creeds, and a whole global religion."
Which is which?
The piece ends with quotes from two members of the Catholic hierarchy. These look like really, really early, quickie, preliminary comments to me. I think this story hasn't even STARTED to develop yet. Perhaps some bishops are awaiting the results of the #FBIPrimary to see if the Democrats have to go to their bench.
But again, label these words?
Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, for example, said recently that the political conversation about immigration had turned ugly.
“I think some of the rhetoric coming out of this campaign is deplorable,” Wester told the Associated Press. “It’s scapegoating and targeting people like the immigrant, the refugee and the poor.”
Chicago’s Archbishop Blase Cupich, meanwhile, said in an interview with PBS affiliate WTTW that he respected the choice of the voters in choosing Trump -- but that he’d keep a close eye on how the campaigns proceed.
“I’m not troubled by [Trump’s success] because we live in a democracy and you have to respect the vote of the people,” he said. “Am I going to watch very carefully the debate that goes forward on the issues that are important to me, like immigration, for instance? Yes. And life issues? Yes.”
Stay tuned and keep reading.