Joe Biden will become President of the United States of America on Wednesday.
The Trump era will be over and at last we can hope for some decency to return to the world of politics. It has been a horrendous period.
The disgraceful scenes which saw the storming of the US Capitol by a thuggish mob was a fitting ending for the bullying era which Trump gloried in.
Their sole aim was to stop the formal counting of the Electoral College vote for the legally elected next president. It turned out to be a spectacularly failed coup.
It was consoling to see that all the major media outlets across the world condemned, without reservation, the actions of a mob egged on by the then-president.
What intrigued me were the editorials in Catholic papers.
The lead article in the National Catholic Reporter rightly fingered those Catholics and other fundamentalists who disgracefully backed Trump for five years.
Last weekend the NCR wrote: “Clearly, the current resident of the White House [Trump] who for months has repeatedly and deliberately lied about non-existent election fraud, and who, even as Confederate-flag wielding thugs strolled throughout the Capitol, is guilty of inciting violence in his morning speech on the Ellipse.
"Later in the day, he would express ‘love’ for what can only be described as domestic terrorists.”
Obviously, Republicans backed him even when it was against every decent principle the party ever stood for. They allowed Trump to hijack their party and no one shouted ‘stop’.
However, there were others outside the party who should have known better but who, to their shame, backed Trump. Once again the NCR explained who should hang their heads.
“But also among those with some culpability for [the] failed insurrection are more than a few leaders in our church. Catholic apologists for Trump have blood on their hands,” NCR opined.
That is precisely the point...
“This is the culmination of what [Trump’s] presidency has been about from the beginning — and some Catholics have remained silent, or worse, cheered it along, including some bishops, priests, a few sisters, right-wing Catholic media and too many people in the pro-life movement”.
NCR went further and named names, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan – whom I took issue with in this paper weeks before the election. Many one-issue anti-abortion campaigners took Trump as their patron saint.
“His lifestyle and his decisions had not a single trace of genuine pro-life decency in them. Unbelievably 50 per cent of Catholics still voted for Trump this year — despite four years of incompetence and racism.
“It must stop. If the church is to live up to the teachings of its founder, and if it is ever to be a witness to the culture, it cannot, must not, be a part of what happened at our nation’s Capitol. There must be no white Catholic nationalism. And a pro-life movement that embraces white nationalism is not a true pro-life movement. Period.”
To be fair, not all Catholic/Christian leaders backed Trump.
Many individual Christian leaders did point out Trump’s all too obvious shortcomings and paid the price by being attacked by rogue priests on Twitter and by being reported to Rome for making the honest call.
Once again NCR expressed it as plainly as possible: “While some prelates have spoken out all along, the bishops’ conference, as a body, must publicly confess and atone for its complicity in empowering [Trump] and the Republican Party in this violence and in denigrating the Democratic Party.
The US bishops could start by disbanding that ad hoc, adversarial committee on president-elect Joe Biden, and use its various resources to re-shift how we discuss what it means to be pro-life Catholics. A pro-life movement unwilling to exclaim ‘black lives matter’ is not a pro-life movement.”
The NCR team concludes that we now have a chance to start again.
“This week America’s second Catholic president — a decent man — will take over and begin the long, arduous task of rebuilding our democracy. Decent people of all religions need to get on board to help, not hinder, that process.”
Let us hope it happens now.