However, the above story reports that Catholic voters, who make up 22% of the electorate, were sharply divided by race and ethnicity. White Catholics backed Trump 57% - 42% over Biden (in 2016, Trump won 64% of white Catholics and Clinton won 31%). But among Hispanic Catholics, 67% backed Biden to 32% for Trump ."The election results show that the Catholic Church is as divided as our nation, but the real divide is race and ethnicity, not theology," said David Gibson, director of Fordham University's Center on Religion and Culture.
How could Catholics be so divided on whether Pres. Trump deserved a second term? Some factors we simply cannot eliminate or ignore are racism, nativism and denial of the science behind the climate crisis. It's undeniable that many in the country have responded to his racial "dogwhistles," his demonization of immigrants, and his refusal to take climate change seriously. That many Catholics, even many in our pews every Sunday, also harbor these views should not shock us but should surely concern us, especially Catholic leaders, pastors and preachers.
For others, it may primarily have been the feeling that their economic prospects would be better under Trump. Yet others, like so many in the country, actually like what so many others see as Trump's "unpresidential" speech and behavior, because they have come to hate all politics and politicians and want someone to "burn it down." Again, no surprise that Catholics mirror the general population in that regard.
I haven't seen any surveys yet on this, but I also assume that for some, if not many or most, of the Catholics who voted Republican this time, it was first and foremost because of one issue: abortion. Our national Bishop's Conference made it clear this year as in every election for decades that abortion is the Church's "pre-eminent" political issue. But in this case you had a President who was "right" on abortion (in terms of calling himself "pro-life" and nominating extremely conservative judges who might be inclined to overturn Roe v Wade) and wrong - often glaringly, egregiously wrong - on every other issue the Church professes to care about: compassionate immigration, refugee and asylum policies, capital punishment, concern for the planet's sustainability, commitment to the poor, and desire for racial justice.
It begins to look as though "pre-eminent" means "only." Do the bishops really mean to tell us that abortion always and everywhere trumps (no pun intended) not only every other social justice issue, but all of them combined? I don't believe most of them would, but the bishops, who are currently worrying that Biden's "personally opposed but politically pro-choice position is "confusing" to everyday Catholics, should be just as concerned that they confuse the faithful when they preach social justice across the board but seem to be fine with a candidate who opposes them on every social issue but this one (I'm leaving out "religious liberty," which Bob Bossie reflected on last month, and school choice).
I have always supported the Church's teaching on abortion. Before working for the church, I worked for a pro-life Catholic (Democratic) candidate for U.S. Congress in 1981 (the only one of 10 in the primary - he came in fourth). I consider myself a "seamless garment" Catholic like Chicago Cardinals Bernadin and Cupich. I believe "left-wing" Christians need to be challenged by abortion every bit as much as "right-wing" Christians need to be challenged on human rights for all, welcoming the stranger, lifting up the poor, and non-violence. But I am against abortion for the very same reasons I am for immigrants and against "endless war" - because "ALL lives matter," because all children of God are my brothers and sisters, and because every person conceived and born has a sacred human dignity that comes from our Creator. And I don't believe being "pro-life" stops when a child is born.
In this article from America Magazine, a priest who works for Cardinal Cupich suggests that calling abortion a "foundational" political issue is much preferable to the word the bishops have been using. I think he's really on to something, and that showing that "all lives" should matter to us for the same reasons unborn lives do would help bring Catholics of the right and left find common ground in future elections, challenging both parties to become more pro-life. What do you think?