An Appeal to Our Fellow Catholics

Published Date: March 7, 2016 | Topics: Politics and Current Affairs, Religion

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By Robert P. George & George Weigel

March 7, 2016 4:59 PM

(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty)

And to all men and women of good will.

In recent decades, the Republican party has been a vehicle — imperfect, like all human institutions, but serviceable — for promoting causes at the center of Catholic social concern in the United States: (1) providing legal protection for unborn children, the physically disabled and cognitively handicapped, the frail elderly, and other victims of what Saint John Paul II branded “the culture of death”; (2) defending religious freedom in the face of unprecedented assaults by officials at every level of government who have made themselves the enemies of conscience; (3) rebuilding our marriage culture, based on a sound understanding of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and (4) re-establishing constitutional and limited government, according to the core Catholic social-ethical principle of subsidiarity. There have been frustrations along the way, to be sure; no political party perfectly embodies Catholic social doctrine. But there have also been successes, and at the beginning of the current presidential electoral cycle, it seemed possible that further progress in defending and advancing these noble causes was possible through the instrument of the Republican party.

That possibility is now in grave danger. And so are those causes.

Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity. His appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility. He promised to order U.S. military personnel to torture terrorist suspects and to kill terrorists’ families — actions condemned by the Church and policies that would bring shame upon our country. And there is nothing in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government.                             

We understand that many good people, including Catholics, have been attracted to the Trump campaign because the candidate speaks to issues of legitimate and genuine concern: wage stagnation, grossly incompetent governance, profligate governmental spending, the breakdown of immigration law, inept foreign policy, stifling “political correctness” — for starters. There are indeed many reasons to be concerned about the future of our country, and to be angry at political leaders and other elites. We urge our fellow Catholics and all our fellow citizens to consider, however, that there are candidates for the Republican nomination who are far more likely than Mr. Trump to address these concerns, and who do not exhibit his vulgarity, oafishness, shocking ignorance, and — we do not hesitate to use the word — demagoguery.  

Mr. Trump’s record and his campaign show us no promise of greatness; they promise only the further degradation of our politics and our culture. We urge our fellow Catholics and all our fellow citizens to reject his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination by supporting a genuinely reformist candidate.

Robert P. George                                                       

McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence                   

Princeton University

George Weigel

Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies

Ethics and Public Policy Center                                 


Ryan T. Anderson

William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow

The Heritage Foundation

Stephen M. Barr

University of Delaware

Francis J. Beckwith

Professor of Philosophy and Church–State Studies

Baylor University 

Mary Ellen Bork

Ethics and Public Policy Center Board

Gerard V. Bradley

Professor of Law

University of Notre Dame

Don J. Briel

John Henry Newman Chair of Liberal Arts

University of Mary

Brian Burch


James C. Capretta

Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Joseph Cella

Founder, National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D.

The Catholic Association

Ann Corkery

Founder, Catholic Voices USA

Neil Corkery

Sudan Relief Fund

David Paul Deavel

Interim Editor, Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture

Mary Eberstadt

Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Eduardo Echeverria

Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology

Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Thomas F. Farr

Director, Religious Freedom Project

Georgetown University

Matthew J. Franck

Director, William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution, Witherspoon Institute 

Anna Halpine

Founder, World Youth Alliance

Mary Rice Hasson

Director, Catholic Women’s Forum, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Stephen J. Heaney

Associate Professor of Philosophy

University of St. Thomas

John P. Hittinger

Pope John Paul II Forum, Center for Thomistic Studies

University of St. Thomas

Elizabeth M. Kelly

Managing Editor, Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture

Rachel Lu

Senior Contributor, The Federalist

Bruce D. Marshall

Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine

Perkins School of Theology

Southern Methodist University

Robert T. Miller

Professor of Law and F. Arnold Daum Fellow in Corporate Law

University of Iowa College of Law

Kate O’Beirne

Former Washington Editor, National Review

C. C. Pecknold

The Catholic University of America

Robert Royal

Faith and Reason Institute

Deborah Savage

Professor of Philosophy and Theology

University of St. Thomas

Timothy Samuel Shah

Religious Freedom Project

Georgetown University

Nina Shea

Director, Center for Religious Freedom

Hudson Institute

Hilary Towers

Developmental psychologist and author

David R. Upham

Associate Professor of Politics

University of Dallas 

Edward Whelan

Ethics and Public Policy Center

Stephen P. White

Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

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