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How Much Does Trump Owe Pope Francis Now?

“Evangelicals helped Trump in states he was mostly going to win anyway. Catholics? Now we’re talking about Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. And that was the election.”

White Catholics voted 60% for Trump while he received only 46% of the national popular vote.

“Trump won the highest percentage of Catholic voters (52%) for a Republican candidate since 2004. White Catholics supported Trump by a wide, 23-point margin (60% to 37%). Both white and Latino Catholics cast more ballots for Trump than for Romney in 2012.”

Despite much inaccurate reporting, every poll that included the respondent’s religion conducted during the campaign showed Catholics choosing Trump at percentages higher than the general electorate. (See also here, here and here.)

Evangelicals “went overwhelmingly for Trump, but that was also true in 2012 when they weren’t even sure Romney was Christian. They aren’t the swing voters. Catholics, on the other hand, were plus-2 for Obama in 2012 and plus-7 for Trump this year.”

The Campaign

In September, Trump’s campaign announced a new group of high-powered Catholic advisers including Republican politicians and other Catholic leaders in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. “On the issues and policies of greatest concern to Catholics, Donald Trump will fight for Catholics whereas Hillary Clinton is openly hostile to those issues of greatest concern to Catholics and will attack the core teachings of the Catholic Church” wrote Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI).

The website lists “ISSUES OF IMPORTANCE TO CATHOLICS.” The first is “Religious Liberty” along with Trump’s promise that “If I am elected president and Congress passes the First Amendment Defense Act, I will sign it to protect the deeply held religious beliefs of Catholics …. The Little Sisters of the Poor, or any religious order for that matter, will always have their religious liberty protected on my watch and will not have to face bullying from the government because of their religious beliefs.”

The First Amendment Defense Act “would allow hospitals, governments, universities, and businesses to ignore same-sex marriage, deny women health care, and fire gay people.” Martin R. Castro, chairman of the US Commission on Civil Rights, recently stated: “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”

Trump’s mention of the Little Sisters of the Poor refers to their lawsuit against coverage for contraception under Obamacare which went all the way to the US Supreme Court.

In October, Trump sent a letter to a Catholic Leadership Conference: “I am, and will remain, pro-life. I will defend your religious liberties and the right to fully and freely practice your religion, as individuals, business owners and academic institutions …. I will protect and work to expand educational choice.”

In the final days of the campaign, Trump gave an interview on EWTN, “the largest religious media network in the world.” Trump again sympathized with the Little Sisters of the Poor. “People who are faith-based are not being accepted in our country anymore,” he told his audience. “Religious liberty” was in “tremendous trouble” and that “the biggest issue right now is the Supreme Court judges,” Trump said.

All the above are subjects Pope Francis addressed in his September 2015 trip to the US or has consistently preached.

The pope’s speeches at the White House  and Independence Hall defended “religious liberty.”

The only religious order he met with during his US tour was the Little Sisters of the Poor.

The pontiff encouraged Catholics lobbying against same-sex marriage by meeting in private  with Kim Davis, the government clerk who went to jail for six days after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On his flight back to Rome from the US, Pope Francis said “government officials have a ‘human right’ to refuse to do their job if they feel it violates their religious conscience.” He repeated this again in a May 2016 interview: “The right to conscientious objection must be recognized within each legal structure because it is a human right, including for a government official.”

“Conscience rights” (here and here) and  “conscientious objection” have now joined the lexicon of buzzwords defending discrimination against LGBTQ persons and denying healthcare to women.

Pope Francis has called same-sex marriage an “anthropological regression”  and said it “disfigures God’s plan for creation.” At least 14 anti-gay religious crusaders were at the pope’s “traditional marriage” conference in Nov. 2014. He has termed the movement in many countries to accept same-sex marriage an “ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family.” Pope Francis “has used similar vocabulary to object to what he calls an ‘ideological colonization’ of developing countries by Western nations … on matters such as contraception and abortion” as well as same-sex marriage.

As regards the GOP’s “bathroom bills,” Pope Francis has compared transgender persons to nuclear weapons saying both do not “recognize the order of creation”  and that they are “the sin against God the Creator!” The pope has denounced “gender theory,” what he calls people “choosing” their sex. His “gender ideology” pronounced numerous times around the world is now used by conservatives around the world.

Pope Francis has said that abortion, even to save a woman’s life, is an “abominable crime,” “horrific” and “what the Mafia does – throw someone away to save another.” He has stated that abortion is the result of  “the egoism of a culture that does not love life,”the “alleged right to one’s own body” and a “widespread mentality of profit.”

In his EWTN interview, Trump said Syrian refugees should be properly vetted and he would stop accepting them until this was done. When questioned about Europe’s capacity to accept immigrants in a May 2016 interview, Pope Francis responded that “one cannot open the gates wide unreasonably.” On Sept. 1, Pope Francis said “Migrants should be treated according to certain rules, because migration is a right, but one which is highly regulated.”

After the election

The men Trump nominated for Attorney General and Secretaries of Energy, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development and Labor have all played leadership roles in the Republican war against women and LGBTQ persons.

Betsy DeVos, nominee for Secretary of Education is “a national leader” in promoting “the use of taxpayer dollars on private and religious schools.”

Pope Francis wrote in April 2016 that the state should provide funding for parents to choose private education regardless of their financial means.

Trump has “promised to create a $20 billion federal block grant, then leverage states to reallocate a total of $110 billion of their existing education budget for school choice …. The funding would be available to ‘a private school, a religious school, a charter school or a magnet school,’” the candidate declared.

Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager now “counselor to the president,” will speak at the annual anti-abortion protest on Jan. 27. Conway and other anti-abortionists with “key roles” will have “a seat at the table” in the Trump administration, according to the National Catholic Register.

That includes the Catholic Steve Bannon, “who stoked the flames of alt-right fury while running Breitbart News,” and is now Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor. “I’m convinced overall he’s a solid guy,” said Jay Richards, a professor at the Catholic University of America, “who described Bannon as being strongly pro-life and very concerned about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East.”

Vatican ready to do business with Trump

The second highest Vatican official, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, congratulated Trump the day after the election, noting that the election “was characterized by a large turnout at the polls.” (See “Voter turnout at 20-year low in 2016.”) He praised the president-elect: “[T]he future leader has already spoken like a leader.”

Parolin said the first issue on which the Vatican would “collaborate” with Trump was peace. The second was “the internal [i.e. domestic] issues” of the US Church such as “religious freedom.”

“Asked about the polemics that arose earlier in the year between Trump and Pope Francis over the question of immigration, Parolin responded, ‘Let’s see how the president acts’ …. Normally, they say it is one thing to be a candidate and another to be president, to have that responsibility. It seems premature to make judgments,” Parolin concluded.

Cardinal Peter Turkson, recently appointed by the pope to head a new “super-dicastery focused in particular on assisting and accompanying migrants,” said on Dec. 23 that it was “unfortunate” that Trump took the pope’s words “personally” because “it wasn’t [just about] Trump.” The pope meant his comments to include immigration problems “in Poland and Hungary as well,” Turkson clarified. “I don’t think we can take any of [Trump’s] campaign positions seriously, since they may come under review and reformulation,” the cardinal said, agreeing with Parolin.

Will Trump follow Putin’s lead with a Church/State alliance?

Trump’s admiration – some would say “reverence” – for Russian President Vladimir Putin is well known.

Putin uses the Russian Orthodox Church to consolidate his power.

[Putin] appears eager to harness that resurgent power of faith to promote his own agenda [and] sees an alliance with Church interests as a way to bolster nationalism with belief …. The moral authority of the Russian Orthodox Church has grown steadily under Putin, who sides with the Church in promoting traditional family values and opposing gay rights …. With strong financial backing from oligarchs [the ROC’s] global reach amounts to a network of the new Russian presence around the world, parallel to Moscow’s embassies and trade missions.

Putin has “appealed to traditional values as opposed to Western liberalism in a bid to consolidate his grip on Russian society.”

Should Trump decide to solidify an alliance with the Church, the new president will find he has common allies as well as some shared foreign policy goals with Pope Francis.

MUTUAL ALLIES

Putin

Pope Francis positioned himself as Putin’s ally early in his pontificate. Although the massacre of civilians had been ongoing since the day he was elected, the pontiff held a September 2013 peace rally for Syria only after Pres. Obama proposed a limited air strike to deter the further use of chemical weapons against civilians. “Moscow was pleased after Francis opposed a proposed US-led military intervention in Syria, a key Russian ally.”

Pope Francis had “quite a cordial and constructive meeting” with Putin in November 2013.

Putin used “Russia’s Christian roots to justify the annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine” in early 2014.

Putin was “not welcome at the June 7-8, 2015, G7 summit meeting thanks to his government’s continued incursions into Ukraine’s territory. But two days after the meeting of Western powers in Germany, the Russian leader had his second meeting with Pope Francis.”

Between the pope’s first and second meeting with Putin, “some 1.2 million Ukrainians have been internally displaced according to the United Nations humanitarian office  [while] Pope Francis is working to build diplomatic relations with Russia … especially to advance some of the Vatican’s other diplomatic interests.”

A meeting between Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill was scheduled for Feb. 12, 2016. The meeting “could not happen without a green light from Putin … and he may be one the beneficiaries. Putin has aligned himself closely with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), making [the] private meeting politically charged, especially when Russia is at odds with the West over Ukraine and Syria. Putin clearly sees the value of his relationship with the ROC and the ROC’s relationship with the pope.”

The Economist:

Did the pope just kiss Putin’s ring?

…. Russia wants its people to believe that Western republics are not as hostile as their leaders. Pope Francis just helped. [The meeting] is a diplomatic victory for Putin [and]helped to underscore Russia’s renewed standing as a global power.

…. Francis made clear in his interview before the meeting that on certain issues he agrees with Mr. Putin and disagrees with America and its allies.

…. The joint declaration issued after the meeting hewed close to the Kremlin’s positions on the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine.

…. The joint declaration deplores “hostility” in Ukraine, but omits any mention of Russia’s role, casting it as an internal struggle.

Miroslav Marinovich, vice-rector of the Catholic University in Lviv, said that the sections relating to Ukraine were “obviously written in the Kremlin.” Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of Ukraine’s Greek Catholic Church [one of the Eastern Rite Churches loyal to the pope], went even further. The members of his Church, he said, felt “betrayed by the Vatican.”

The joint declaration between the heads of the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches included a denouncement of same-sex marriage. Patriarch Kirill “supported a campaign last year calling for a total ban on abortion.” Putin “also takes the position held by Pope Francis that ‘tolerance of gender choice results from a Western imperial ideology.'”

Breitbart News

Thomas Williams was chosen by Steve Bannon as Breitbart’s Rome bureau chief in 2014.

Formerly a priest and publisher in the conservative religious order, the Legionaries of Christ (LC), Williams left in 2013 to marry the daughter of theocon Mary Ann Glendon, Bush 43’s ambassador to the Vatican and appointed by Pope Francis to the board of the Vatican Bank. (Glendon is one of only three American laypersons appointed by this pope to Vatican positions. The others are Juan C. Zarate, another former official in the George W. Bush administration, and Opus Dei’s Greg Burke, former Fox News correspondent appointed by Pope Francis as head of his Press Office.)

“Williams became the go-to priest for Vatican analysis on American television and defended the leader of his order, the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, from accusations of child molestation.” As early as 1997, Jason Berry and Gerald Renner wrote a series of well-documented articles in The Hartford Courant that Maciel was a pedophile. Their 2004 book, Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II,  showed how Maciel was able to keep Vatican officials silent about his criminal activities by donating staggering sums of money

El Imperio Financiero de los Legionarios de Cristo (The Financial Empire of the Legionaries of Christ) by Raúl Olmos, published in 2015, details how Maciel created a “real financial mafia …. a network with interests in such diverse fields [as] weapons, pornography and contraceptives …. This is a multimillion-dollar congregation with transnational reach, whose resources would be sufficient to subsidize the Vatican State only with what it receives from donations.”

Nevertheless, two months after his election, Pope Francis sent a letter offering “a word of encouragement” to the LC and in August 2013 he named “a prominent member of the Legionaries to the number two position in the Vatican City State. [The pope has] signaled that the Legionaries are ready to get back to business …. Legionaries feel ‘totally supported’ by the pope.” This December, Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin ordained 36 Legionaries of Christ in Rome.

As head of Breitbart News, Williams has “documented the illegal immigration inundating Italy’s shores, tracked the country’s ascending anti-establishment movement and monitored religious persecution of Christians.”

Among William’s most recent articles: “Obama Administration Funded Illegal Abortions in Africa” and “Pew Report: Religion Plummeted in America During Obama Era.”

With Williams’ close ties to the LC and Glendon, Breitbart News has insider’s access to the Vatican.

MUTUAL FOREIGN POLICY POSITIONS 

Justifying US War in the Middle East

In order to benefit war profiteers, uncritical support for a belligerent Israel was one of the founding principles of the Religious Right. Although later combined with anti-Muslim hysteria, this is still a vital issue with evangelicals.

More recently, “the sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks in the Middle East have created a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business,” the New York Times reported. Catholics “who read Catholic publications have more unfavorable views of Muslims than those who didn’t” mostly due, as outlined below, to the incessant coverage given to Christian “martyrdom” in the Middle East.

US Vatican reporter, John L. Allen Jr., named anti-Christian persecution as one of the areas “where Pres. Trump and Pope Francis can do business.” (The others were the “obvious” issue of abortion as well as “gender theory” and “religious freedom.”) “Pope Francis repeatedly has referred to what he calls an ‘ecumenism of blood’ playing out around the world today, and also stressed there are more Christian martyrs today than in the early era of the Church,” Allen wrote.

Pope Francis has said “We are dismayed to see many of our brothers and sisters persecuted, tortured and killed” in the Middle East, and referred to “our modern day martyrs” in Iraq and Syria. This December, after a Cairo bombing, “Pope Francis phoned His Holiness Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Church to express … Christian Churches’ shared experiences of martyrdom.”

“Candidate Trump struck similar notes, at one point saying, ‘Overseas, ISIS has carried out one unthinkable atrocity after another … Holy sites desecrated. Christians driven from their homes and hunted for extermination. ISIS rounding-up what it calls the ‘nation of the cross’ in a campaign of genocide. We cannot let this evil continue.’” Trump promised to use “military and cyber warfare” to destroy “radical Islamic terrorism.”

Lee Marsden, professor of international relations specializing in religion and security, said there could be an element of Islamophobia in some Christian organizations, “but there is also an element of victimhood – a view that the Church has always been persecuted, which feeds into the martyrdom narrative” so important to the right wing.

Steve Bannon gave an address to a Vatican conference organized by the Human Dignity Institute “one of many new [right wing] groups that have sprouted on the continent in recent years with missions they describe as ‘promoting life,’ ‘traditional family,’ and ‘religious liberty.’”

Bannon called on the ‘church militant’ to fight a global war against a ‘new barbarity’ of ‘Islamic fascism’ with 2,500 years of Western civilization at risk …. As the Trump administration prepares to take office, the use of Church Militant [has] taken on a political resonance.”

Thomas Williams also participated in the same Vatican conference. Williams said “he shared Bannon’s reservations about assimilating Muslims.”  On New Year’s Day, Williams posted the article “Report: 90,000 Christians Killed for Their Faith in 2016” on the Breitbart website. The same story was published on other Catholic websites as well.

Pope Francis has called for “concrete participation and tangible help in the defense and protection of our [Christian] brothers and our sisters who are persecuted, exiled, killed and decapitated.” He urged the international community to “take action” in the face of “unacceptable” crimes against religious minorities, particularly Christians.

The Vatican’s UN ambassador Archbishop Bernardito Auza, speaking during a Security Council debate, said the international community must exercise “the legitimate use of force” to put an end to the “barbarity” of targeting civilians.

Msgr. Paul Richard Gallagher, Vatican Secretary for Relations with States or “foreign minister,” called for “bending” or “orienting” the law “towards a more widespread use and easier access to the use of force … without involving the competent bodies within the international community.”

Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin stated he supported military intervention to disarm “an unjust aggressor.” Asked about the pope’s comments “when the pontiff said it’s ‘licit’ to use force to stop an unjust aggressor, Parolin said that position remains valid.” That position also “reflects the sentiment of local Catholic bishops in the Middle East.”

At an international conference on Christian persecution at a pontifical university, Archbishop Louis Raphaël I Sako, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church (an Eastern Rite Church loyal to the pope) called for international ground forces in the Middle East to fight ISIS

While all people of good will abhor the persecution and deaths of Christians, what is always omitted by the Catholic media is that many more Muslims than Christians have been killed, maimed and raped by ISIS, “Western wars killed four million Muslims between 1990 and April 2015,” and “11 million Muslim-on-Muslim killings between 1948 and 2013.”

As Bush’s “crusade” in Iraq resulted in hundreds of thousands of killed, wounded, injured and sickened, orphans, displaced persons etc. etc.  we have every reason to fear that Trump will keep his campaign promise justified by the unremitting focus on Christian martyrs by Pope Francis and others Catholics.

United Nations

On Dec. 27, “President-elect Donald Trump tweeted that the UN ‘is just a club for people to get together, talk and have a good time.’ The harsh criticism … signaled he would likely challenge more than just the 71-year-old institution’s approach to the Middle East once he takes office.”

At her confirmation hearing on Jan. 18, Trump nominee for UN ambassador, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley, said the world body is “often at odds with American national interests and American taxpayers …. Her skepticism about the United Nations’ value echoes President-elect Donald Trump and aides who have said the New York-based body is biased, bloated and ineffectual.”

The Vatican’s most contentious international relationship has been with the UN. “In the United Nations, the Catholic Church continues to oppose family planning. The Church opposes gay marriage not just for Catholics – but for everyone.” The Church’s impact on these issues has an adverse impact in developing countries and even greater in largely Roman Catholic countries.

Last June, Pope Francis’ UN ambassador, Archbishop Bernardino Auza “reminded UN officials” that the Vatican “reaffirms its well-known position” concerning “contraception” and “condom use” as morally unacceptable. The Church “does not consider abortion, access to abortion, or access to abortifacients [a term inaccurately applied to birth control pills] as a dimension of the terms ‘sexual and reproductive health,’ ‘sexual and reproductive health-care services’ and ‘reproductive rights.’” “With reference to ‘gender,’” Auza asserted that this term applies only to ‘the objective identity of the human person as born male or female’ and not that ‘gender is socially constructed.’”

“One LGBTQ activist” calls Russia, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, and the Vatican the “unholy trinity” in the UN as regards resistance to protecting equal rights for LGBTQ people. “In other international arenas such as the European Union and Organization of American States conservative groups like C-Fam (the Center for Family and Human Rights, formerly known as the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute),” headed by Opus Dei’s  Austin Ruse, play an important role. C-Fam “has special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council.”

Other collaborative anti-LGBTQ organizations who operate “around the world, at the UN and at the national level” include the National Organization for Marriage with “clearly, evident links to Opus Dei.” Brian Brown is president of both the National Organization for Marriage and the World Congress of Families. “Russian conservatives played a key role in the founding of the World Congress of Families, and the WCF maintains close ties with Russian Orthodox officials and financiers.”

While the Vatican has opposed women’s access to health care since becoming a “permanent observer” at the UN and later included opposition to LGBTQ human rights, the global clerical sexual abuse of children has become a personal battleground between Pope Francis and the organization.

On July 1, 2013, the UN’s Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) sent a request to the Pope Francis for information on “cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers or nuns” and set Nov. 1 as a deadline for a reply. The questions were sent as preparation for a public hearing scheduled for January. The Nov. 1 deadline came and went.

Pope Francis finally responded to the CRC on Dec. 4 by stating that it was not the practice of his government to “disclose information on specific cases unless requested to do so by another country as part of legal proceedings” and “that the Vatican can provide information only about known and alleged child sex crimes that have happened on Vatican property.”

A rarity, the pope’s response was criticized. The next day, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley stated that the pontiff would create a special Commission for the Protection of Minors. In the past three years, this commission has accomplished nothing more than giving “talks and workshops” to Church officials on “guidelines in the safeguarding and protection of children” developed decades ago by the survivors of sex abuse.

BishopAccountability.org noted five significant moments in the January 2014 hearing conducted by the CRC with Pope Francis’ representative in Geneva.
•    For the first time, the Vatican had to admit publicly that it still does not require the reporting of child sex crimes to civil authorities. Nor does it take this step when priests are defrocked.
•    The Holy See still refused to provide the data requested on July 1.
•    The Vatican believes that it is the obligation of the individual perpetrator, not the Church, to compensate victims.
•    Religious orders, which comprise one third to one half of the world’s Catholic clerics, still are not being compelled by the Holy See to create abuse policies.

Shortly after, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) “found that the widespread sexual violence within the Catholic Church amounted to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.” On March 5, 2014, Pope Francis responded that, as regards the sexual torture of children, “The statistics … show clearly that the great majority of the abuses come from the family environment and from people who are close. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that moved with transparency and responsibility. No one else did as much. And yet, the Church is the only one being attacked.”

Vatican officials went to Geneva in May 2014 to respond to questions by  CAT, such as why the pope believed his responsibility for protecting children against torture only applied on Vatican property.

CAT issued its report. The members “ordered the Vatican to hand over files containing details of clerical sexual abuse allegations to police forces around the world, to use its authority over the Roman Catholic Church worldwide to ensure all allegations of clerical abuse are passed on to the secular authorities and to impose ‘meaningful sanctions’ on any Church officials who fail to do so.”

CAT specifically mentioned the case of Polish Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, the pope’s ambassador to the Dominican Republic. After a private dossier accusing Wesolowski of soliciting sex for money from Santo Domingo’s poorest boys was sent to Pope Francis in July 2013, the pope removed the archbishop without notifying the civil authorities leaving Wesolowski a free man. When the threat arose 14 months later that the former ambassador would be arrested by Italian police and possibly extradited back to the Dominican Republic, Pope Francis had him put under house arrest in the Vatican. In August 2015, Wesolowski died just before his Vatican trial which would have brought publicity to many other disturbing details.

In 2012, Pope Benedict defrocked the Italian priest, Fr. Mauro Inzoli, for sexually abusing children. Inzoli, however, had friends who were cardinals. Pope Francis reinstated Inzoli to the priesthood in 2014. “The priest was invited to lead a life of prayer and humble confidence as signs of conversion and penance” but the pope did not notify the public or the civil authorities that the pedophile was otherwise a free man.

In June 2016, Inzoli was convicted by an Italian court of “sexual violence” against eight boys. Fifteen other “very serious” charges were beyond the statute of limitations. The Vatican refused to provide the prosecution with any requested documents.

In October 2016, Pope Francis refused to turn over Vatican documents on clerical sex abuse to a Chilean court.

This past November, police in the Argentine province of Mendoza arrested the priest Nicola Corradi, along with the priest Horacio Corbacho and three other men. “They all worked at the Antonio Próvolo Institute, a school for youths with hearing disabilities. [They were accused of] abusing at least eight children, fondling them and subjecting them to various forms of sexual intercourse over a decade.”

Former students with hearing impairments from the Italian Próvolo Institute wrote to the Pope Francis on Oct. 20, 2014, naming 14 priests and lay religious from the institute who were still alive and in ministry who allegedly had sexually abused them. They named Corradi, and noted that he and three others were in Argentina.” The pope did nothing to stop Corradi and the others.

Currently, there are at least 15 active bishops accused of complicity with abusive priests “who have no fear of being disciplined.”

Supporters of Pope Francis have lobbied for him to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in each year of his pontificate.  Hopefully, they have failed because the international human rights community is aware of the pontiff’s global obstruction of women’s access to health care, human rights for LGBTQ persons and protection and justice for the victims of clerical sex abuse.

Neither the pope nor any Vatican official was invited to play a meaningful role in the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference or the UN General Assembly’s “high-level summit” on refugees and migrants in September 2016. Both are subjects for which Pope Francis has received much praise in the US media.

What Trump can do for Pope Francis

For most of its history, the Vatican has formed alliances with the most powerful civil leaders willing to protect the Church’s interests in return.

The National Catholic Register  noted there has been “an animosity on the part of Obama’s Administration toward key Catholic teachings, specifically regarding abortion, the sanctity of marriage, and religious liberty.” Trump, however, “has the opportunity to chart a new course in US-Church relations” by regarding “policies of concern to persons of faith.”

Two of Bush ’43 ambassadors to the Vatican added the following:

  • James Nicholson, “The Holy See is a pivot point for international affairs and a major listening post for the United States.”
  • Mary Ann Glendon “noted that both the US and the Vatican are global actors, and their spheres of influence are worldwide.”

The Catholic Church is the only religion that has “diplomatic relations with 174 countries. Seventy-one countries have resident Embassies to the Holy See. The Holy See participates actively in international organizations, and has membership or observer status in the United Nations, European Union, OSCE, OAS, UNHCR, WHO, and World Trade Organization. The pope’s views and the Holy See’s worldwide diplomacy can and do affect an array of US international goals.

In this pontificate, “Vatican diplomats have gained positions of power and influence as never happened under Pope Benedict. [In] the new doctrine concerning the Holy See’s relations with States … it is time for negotiations and dialogue rather than for affirming truth. Parolin is reportedly considering creating an ‘Office for Papal Mediation’ for that purpose.”

Pope Francis and his secretary of state have said that their three years of negotiations with China over the appointment of bishops will bring “a more fraternal world society ,” “is the only way to achieve peace,” can be an “example for the world as a whole,” would have “immense benefits for world peace, very, very big benefits,” and that “the blossom” of their relations with China will be “for the good of all the world.” The pontiff even went so far as to admonish other governments that “fear of the rise in China’s economic and geopolitical influence ‘is not a good counselor.’” (So far, the pope’s negotiations have failed.)

If Trump would at least give the appearance that he is “collaborating” with Pope Francis in some sort of “peace” diplomacy as Parolin stated in congratulating Trump on his election, the new president would have global Catholic officialdom in his debt.

Given that “the right-wing parties on the rise in Europe” are supported by “efforts of the Catholic hierarchy, their ‘satellite organizations,’ and allied politicians to restrict access to abortion and LGBT equality,” a “collaboration” with the Vatican would help Trump solidify his alliances on the continent.

(I would like to thank Harvard-educated former Wall Street attorney Gerald Slevin for suggesting the title and other information in this blog.)

(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America and “Duped by the Media on Pope Francis, Progressives Wonder How Republicans Get Elected.”)

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11 Responses

  1. Well the battle lines are now clear. Soon it will be not only unpatriotic to question Catholic support for DT; but anti-Catholic, anti-baby, anti-family, and anti-marriage. A family member in the Midwest wrote me a few hours ago: “It is time for you to shut up. Why can’t you be a loyal American? Why can’t you be a decent, obedient Catholic, proud of our wonderful Cardinal Dolan?”

    Jack

    >

    • To the family member: “It’s because I am a loyal American that I cannot shut up.”

      • Thanks so much for your comments. Totally agree. One of my traditionalist friends sent me a “prayer for unity” after the election to pass around. So where was the “prayer for unity” when Obama was elected? Time for us patriots to step up and act to make sure we are heard in the 2018 elections!

  2. We are in Betty Clermont’s debt as Americans and as Catholics. She marshalls in this essay a great deal of interesting yet troubling information about the ties between Trump through his alt-right allies and the Vatican, as well as the Vatican’s tilt towards Russia and China. These ties, as the link indicates, obviously affected significantly the recent voting results in critical “Catholic states”.

    The Women’s March on Washington yesterday suggests that the impending confrontation over reproductive rights between a majority of Americans and Trump may well also involve an unprecedented, and long overdue, confrontation with the Vatican over contraception.

    Papal opposition to birth control is fundamentally linked to the unsupportable papal claim to infallibility, the hollow cornerstone of modern papal spiritual power over hundreds of millions of Catholics. Given the Vatican’s declining moral authority as more and more examples of financial corruption and sexual abuse are uncovered, the Vatican seems to be in a death spiral locked to controlling women.

    Paradoxically, the growing fear that Trump will fail women has motivated millions of people worldwide to organize and step up, as this weekend just showed. Perhaps, this will be one the the better unintended consequences of his unexpected election.

    As one of the televised speakers at the March suggested yesterday, the evidence of family planning among women in Trump’s life highlights the injustice of denying similar planning benefits to millions of other families less well off.

    • Thanks for the encouragement and praise. Much appreciated.

  3. Thank you, Betty. This is an extraordinary marshaling of data, helpful in understanding the relationships among Trump, the Vatican, and other countries! I will share it with friends and others.

  4. BC lines up the RCs in Trump’s tower of power. The RCC since Constantine has sought an alliance with the dominant political power to force its agenda rather than through persuasion. Conservative religious groups constantly seek alliance with governments to further their agenda. This is their concept of ecumenism – be in union with the power brokers.
    As Christopher Dawson pointed out the RCC has an affinity for fascism, strong leaders like Mussolini, Franco, Hitler and now Trump.
    BC helpfully provides the scorecard of the RCs on Trump’s team. Seems an inordinate number are RCs! That should scare the bejesus out of anyone.
    And, of course, Pope Francis, true to form, continues to send conflicting
    messages regarding Trump with his latest “wait and see” pronouncement. Certainly, the USCCB ardently hopes that finally they will get financial aid for their declining parochial schools.
    Will MaryAnn Glendon be reappointed to the Vatican or her son-in-law, ex-Legionnaire Thomas Williams, who had a shot gun marriage be next ambassador? The plot sickens!
    The wild card is the global Women’s Movement. Women are finding their universal voice & will not backdown to patriarchy, including Roman.
    Thanks, Betty, for parsing the power ploys.

    • In relation to the “shot gun marriage”. At least there was a marriage and the child validated unlike clergy refused rescript of their vows to preserve the image of the church and their offspring psychologically abandoned.

  5. p.s. About only RC not on BC’s list is Erik Prince, who converted to the RCC, brother of Betsy DeVos. Though his relationship seems to have been scrubbed from his Wiki bio. Robert Reich is now claiming Prince secretly sought to get Pence as VP in order ultimately to install a Christian Dominionist regime! Yikes! Sancta excreta!

    • Your comments are much appreciated since you are always able to add something from your vast understanding of the RCC and its history. Yes, it will be interesting to see who Trump picks as his ambassador to Pope Francis.

      • Maybe another papal knighthood on the horizon……http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/05/why-rupert-murdoch-decided-to-support-trump.html

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