October surprise: We invite Mr. Trump, Mrs. Clinton

The Catholic Post, like the Catholic Church itself, is non-partisan. We do not endorse candidates, though some readers might wish it so. Throughout this election season, we have pointed to resources to help Catholics form their consciences and make decisions. We’ve promoted parish and regional presentations on the importance of voting, carried a statement on Election 2016 from the Catholic Conference of Illinois that listed seven themes of Catholic social teaching, and in our last issue quoted the election advice of Pope Francis: “Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.”

In this most bizarre of presidential elections, however, we want to offer our own October surprise. Whether they win or lose on Nov. 8, The Catholic Post would like to invite both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton to the Diocese of Peoria for specific events in 2017.

Realizing Mr. Trump is not Catholic, we nevertheless believe he would gain much by taking part in next spring’s annual “A Call to Catholic Men of Faith.” In fact, had he heard and heeded the lessons from the first 13 men’s marches, Mr. Trump would not be roasting in the stew created by his own words and alleged actions toward women.

He would have heard Bishop Daniel R. Jenky’s challenge, prior to the very first men’s march in 2004, for men to “carry their faith into the locker room, at the golf course, and when they’re at work.” He might have benefited from hearing Father Patrick Henehan say to the men in 2007 that culture too often uses the excuse “boys will be boys” to explain men being caught up in sexual excess or alcohol. Two years later, he might have been impacted by then-seminarian Chase Hilgenbrinck’s powerful proclamation that he was dedicating his life to denouncing lies men hear from culture, including that if you don’t make a lot of money and “if you’re not a womanizer,” you’re not a real man.

Mostly, he would have been repeatedly urged to imitate St. Joseph, whose example of servant-leadership and protection of those in his care is urgently needed in a culture where “masculinity is often distorted, diminished, exaggerated or denigrated,” according to Bishop Jenky.

Meanwhile, we invite Mrs. Clinton to rub elbows with the local pro-life and Catholic community during activities surrounding next October’s Respect Life Sunday. Attend the Respect Life Mass, stand side by side with those in prayerful silence on “life chains” (we won’t ask you to hold a sign), go to the Respect Life Dinner.

We can speculate whether Mrs. Clinton’s pro-choice politics might be different had she experienced the 35 previous Respect Life Dinners and heard repeated defenses of the sanctity of all human life and calls for support for women in difficult circumstances. But at the very least, by meeting the courageous but gentle souls who lead and take part in local pro-life efforts, she might never again refer to them as “extremists” — a word also used to describe terrorists.

Perhaps Mrs. Clinton would consider bringing some of her staff members, whose private emailed discussions about the Catholic Church and conservative Catholics in particular stirred controversy when made public by WikiLeaks.

Barring something unforeseen, one of these two candidates will be chosen to lead our country. He or she will need our prayers. And both, we believe, would benefit from accepting our invitations. — Thomas J. Dermody

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