Four years ago, according to the Pew Research Center, 52% of Catholics voted for Trump, compared with 44% for Hillary Clinton. And with Biden himself being Catholic, you might expect a change in proportion of Catholic voting.
But now this Catholic vote has got a whole lot more interesting. Recently, Pope Francis travelled to Assisi to honour Saint Francis, the saint he most admires, for his dedication to the poor, and to sign his new encyclical. Encyclicals are the key teaching documents of popes in which they often focus on global issues, not just the internal concerns of the church.
In 2015, Francis produced Laudato Si’, on the environment, where he put all his moral weight behind those advocating the need to take action against climate breakdown. This time round his new document, Fratelli Tutti, published recently, describes a post-pandemic world, and the need for greater fraternity and solidarity. Its message means the pope has waded right into some of the key issues dominating the US presidential election.
Popes are supposed to be above party political matters (as are Epicureans) and Pope Francis has certainly not done anything as crass as name names in his encyclical, although he’s not above overt criticism. Ahead of the 2016 election, he described Trump’s plan to thwart migrants by building a wall between the US and Mexico as “not Christian”. (The Guardian 7 Oct 2020)
Studies have shown that attending church more frequently does not make white christians less racist. In fac, the data suggests that the opposite is true. The connection between holding more racist views and white christian identity is actually stronger among white evangelicals who attend church frequently than it is among those who attend less frequently.
Comment: I am not holding my breath. The end of abortion is more important than climate change to devout Catholics, and climate change itself is denied by too many. Vast sums are being spent by special interests to protect those special interests from having to actually do anything about the impending catastrophe,