“The walls which divide us can be broken down only if we are prepared to listen and learn from one another.” Pope Francis
Earlier this summer, Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania wrote an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer to clarify how he felt about the Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump. Long story short, Senator Toomey isn’t quite on the “Make America Great Again” bandwagon.
Senator Toomey goes out of his way multiple times throughout the article to show readers he’s no fan of Trump. The junior Senator goes on to admit he never met Trump (they did finally meet at a Republican Senate Conference in July). Senator Toomey even gives Trump some advice: “listen more, and talk less.”
Even though Senator Toomey described many of Trump’s stances and mannerisms as vulgar and problematic, and said Trump’s comments about a U.S. District Judge were “deeply offensive” and on Secretary Clinton “very careless”, Toomey hasn’t closed the door on supporting the business tycoon and reality television star for the presidency of the United States of America.
The time is fast approaching for Senator Toomey to definitively decide on whether he can accept the very real possibility of a Trump presidency. As Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter wrote, “The moral stakes are too obvious and too high for anyone to be able to waffle on Trump's candidacy.”
That being said, if Senator Toomey, a fellow Catholic, continues to waffle on whether or not he’ll support Donald TrumpDonald TrumpSanders calls out Manchin, Sinema ahead of filibuster showdown Laura Ingraham 'not saying' if she'd support Trump in 2024 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Djokovic may not compete in French Open over vaccine requirement MORE, he should look to Pope Francis and other Catholic leaders for guidance.
While returning from a trip to Mexico in February, Pope Francis responded to Trump’s assertion he was “a very political person” and pawn of the Mexican government. Pope Francis responded by saying he was thankful Trump called him political because “Aristotle defined the human person as 'animal politicus.' So at least I am a human person.” In what many saw as a direct reference to Trump, His Holiness went on to say, "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel."
In September 2015, while addressing the plight of immigrants and migrants, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput stated, “Some in public life — notably, but not only, Donald Trump — have called for an end to birthright citizenship. This is a profoundly bad idea. It plays on our worst fears and resentments. And it undermines one of the pillars of the American founding and national identity.”
Without naming Trump directly, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote an op-ed in July 2015 about the reemergence of nativist rhetoric. In the op-ed, Dolan said he wished he was teaching in a college classroom again so he “could roll out my 'Trump card' to show the students that I was right. Nativism is alive, well — and apparently popular!”
Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley, when asked about Trump’s “simplistic solutions”, stated, “I worry about his rhetoric,” and that “It’s very easy to stir up resentment and to blame groups of people.”
Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK and leader of the “Nuns on the Bus” campaign, wrote an article in February for The Hill calling Trump’s “xenophobic zeal” disgraceful.
Former Pennsylvania Governor and Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge, a Catholic Republican like Senator Toomey, recently wrote a letter with 49 other Republican foreign policy and national security experts stating Trump would be a "dangerous president."
And in March, a group of 40 prominent Catholic academics wrote an article for the National Review saying Trump is “manifestly unfit to be president of the United States.”
This Catholic concern about Trump is by no means a final list. However, it does show the concern over Trump’s rhetoric and policy views are real and diverse among Catholics.
As a Catholic, I was taught at an early age to speak truth to power. I was also taught to show mercy and kindness towards the poor, sick, and marginalized, and to forgive when forgiveness is due. This to me is the foundation on which Christianity stands on.
However, one can only create this foundation by creating a culture of encounter and dialogue with those we disagree with. If this culture of encounter and dialogue fails to develop, and Trump doesn’t “listen more, and talk less,” as Senator Toomey advises, will the senator firmly and unequivocally oppose Trump?
Stephen Seufert is the state director of Keystone Catholics and national project manager for Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good
The views expressed by Contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.