God, AIDS, Africa & HOPE

pensées of a Catholic priest

Can a Catholic vote for Trump?

I know:
This might be a strange or even outrages question to ask but it is one which drives me since month being a Catholic priest and watching US politics from afar, talking to US American citizens and seeing the ripple effect of US American politics changing the way the world used to work and the value system attached to it.
This might also be a strange question insofar as religion or faith should not prescribe for any voter whom he or she in her conscious decision decide to vote into office. Politics can be a dirty business, there is no one in this field who can claim for himself or herself a halo of sainthood during holding office. And it is good practice in many countries, that pastors or churches can’t give and should not give guidance to their flock whom to vote for in the sacred duty of electing office bearers.

There are indeed often many different political solutions and most of them have a sort of bloom hovering over them – there are so many different ways to see a matter and to decide a matter.
So my question is not touching on policies of a party; it does not question superficially the party affiliation of Catholics. For me the question is much deeper located as the current President of the United States has proven to  use lies and distortion as tools of governance, and he is clearly living in a world of his own – accused of racism and being a womaniser. Reading his tweets paints a perfect picture of the man in office.

So the question is:
How much of lying and self-absorption is allowed for the highest office, a democratic country has to offer?
Where is the limit when those faculties interfere with the greater good of a democratic society in a way damaging exactly these goods and the values attached to human decency, democracy and human rights?

I took note in the last days on social media that prominent Catholics for Trump argue his stance of pro-life as the all overriding factor – in my humble opinion ignoring that being pro-life not starts and ends with pregnancy but should include the track record touching on environment, asylum seekers, death penalty, racism and many more topics where life is threatened. Honesty, respect are other pro-life values not to be missed out.

The social teaching of the Catholic Church gives the state a positive moral function as an instrument to promote human dignity, protect human rights and build the common good. Its purpose is to assist citizens in fulfilling their responsibility to others in society. In today’s complex society citizens need the help of government to fulfil these responsibilities and to promote the common good.
In the times of Covid-19 the role of government has even become more crucial in guiding and unifying people and sectors of society. The ethics of solidarity will become in the future a much stronger pillar of Catholic social teaching – a solidarity which will have to override purely national interests in the connected world of today.

So once again the questions:
Where do we draw the line as Catholics believing in the sanctity of life, in encountering Christ in every fellow man and women, seeing the imprint of the divine not only in every brother or sister of the human race, but also in our environment, in nature and creation with all the diversity it entails?

Where do we draw the line observing abuse of a position in a society with democratic values, when exactly those values are undermined, annulled and circumvented – while at the same time God is invoked numerous times and a way forced to get a photo op in front of a church using police, tear-gas and force – bible firmly hold in hand?

There should be a line in the sand…

Filed under: Catholic Church, Reflection, Religion and Ethics, Society and living environment, Uncategorized, , , , , , ,

2 Responses - Comments are closed.

  1. John F. says:

    Fr. Hippler,

    I’ve left a message on your Twitter feed about this post above as well, but wanted to say here — it’s excellent. Thank you.

    There are many of us who were raised with the teachings of the Church (16 years of nuns, Augustinians, and Jesuits myself) that have been asking exactly this question.

    My personal opinion is that nobody, Catholic or otherwise, should find it in themselves to support someone like Trump. His brand of ugliness violates human principles so blatantly, one doesn’t need an institutional lens with which to see it.

    But absolutely, the lessons of Christ seem to make it that much more starkly clear: This is not a good man. Or at least, this is not the behavior of a good man.

    You’ve said as much, of course, and said it better. Again, thank you for that. And thanks for what you’re doing for the community in South Africa.

    It’s high time that we stopped obsessing about the “morality” of HIV, poverty, homosexuality, etc. and starting focusing on the needs of fellow beings, as equally deserving of God’s love as anybody else.

    John F.

    P.S. If there were more priests like you… and like Pope Francis… I’m convinced the Catholic Church would double its membership. Godspeed.

    • Dear John, many thanks for the message here and on Twitter. Thanks for your encouraging words. And indeed: the obsession about morality must stop; I come to believe that most of it is anyhow of academic nature – what we do and how we see a brother or a sister in everybody, each with a distinct way of living and calling – and each of us including me with lots of different colours instead black/white – loving deeds determine the value and depth of lives lived. Luv & Blessings Stefan

HIV, AIDS and HOPE – thoughts of a Catholic priest

Being a Roman - Catholic priest and working in the fields of HIV and AIDS in Africa is often a challenge. Living in Africa has also its challenges. On the other hand I feel very much blessed having all the three. So you will find stories and reflections about my work, about the church, South Africa and Africa and essential information and developments in the field of HIV and AIDS. And in between personal stories and thoughts. You are most welcome to leave a comment or to get in touch with me - blogs - "thinking loud" so to speak is a ways of communication and exchange of ideas.

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