The leader of the US bishops called for hope and reconciliation on Wednesday, as Donald Trump won a surprise victory over Hillary Clinton in the run for the office of president.
In a statement released this morning, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, congratulated Trump and others elected on Tuesday.
“Now is the moment to move toward the responsibility of governing for the common good of all citizens. Let us not see each other in the divisive light of Democrat or Republican or any other political party, but rather, let us see the face of Christ in our neighbors, especially the suffering or those with whom we may disagree,” the archbishop exhorted.
The prelate said that both citizens and the elected representatives should remember Pope Francis’ words during his address to Congress last year.
“All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity,” the Pope said on that occasion, last Sept. 24.
Responsibility of everyone
Archbishop Kurtz suggested that the election was primarily about economic issues: “Yesterday, millions of Americans who are struggling to find economic opportunity for their families voted to be heard. Our response should be simple: we hear you. The responsibility to help strengthen families belongs to each of us.”
Then, in reference to the issue of abortion, and both the Republican platform and Trump’s campaign promises to work for restricting abortion, the prelate said the bishops’ conference “looks forward to working with President-elect Trump to protect human life from its most vulnerable beginning to its natural end.”
But then Archbishop Kurtz referenced the areas in which Trump’s platform is at odds with Church teaching, saying, “We will advocate for policies that offer opportunity to all people, of all faiths, in all walks of life. We are firm in our resolve that our brothers and sisters who are migrants and refugees can be humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security. We will call attention to the violent persecution threatening our fellow Christians and people of other faiths around the world, especially in the Middle East. And we will look for the new administration’s commitment to domestic religious liberty, ensuring people of faith remain free to proclaim and shape our lives around the truth about man and woman, and the unique bond of marriage that they can form.”
The leader of the US bishops concluded with a call to hope: “Every election brings a new beginning. Some may wonder whether the country can reconcile, work together and fulfill the promise of a more perfect union. Through the hope Christ offers, I believe God will give us the strength to heal and unite.”
While Trump finished with a healthy lead over Clinton in terms of electoral votes, the popular vote highlights the deep division in the country. With some votes still being counted, Clinton was winning the popular vote with a margin of one percentage point (48% to 47%) with a difference of only around a quarter million voters.
“Let us pray for leaders in public life that they may rise to the responsibilities entrusted to them with grace and courage,” Archbishop Kurtz concluded. “And may all of us as Catholics help each other be faithful and joyful witnesses to the healing love of Jesus.”