My intent in writing this point is twofold: first, to humbly remind my friends that we are engaged in a brutal war on two different fronts, and second, just to offer some simple thoughts on the nature of the conflict.
We are engaged in a great political war. Donald Trump, the unapologetic nationalist, is running a campaign for re-election against the leftist career politician Joe Biden. There seem to be few issues that the two candidates actually agree on, which, from a historical standpoint, is startling. The divide in the country and the competing ideologies have been covered ad nauseam and, I daresay, far more completely and eloquently than I could hope to compare with by professional news writers and commentators. Nonetheless, here is my humble attempt to illustrate my point.
We’re all aware of what’s at stake the day after tomorrow. I’ll summarize with a short list of bullet points.
-Abortion: Trump is staunchly pro-life. He has acted to end late-term abortions, addressed the March for Life directly, condemned Planned Parenthood by name, appointed pro-life justices to the Supreme Court, and has enacted foreign policy to uphold the dignity of unborn human life. He withdrew U.S. funding from the United Nations Population Fund, and joined 24 other countries in signing a joint document declaring that there is no such thing as an “international right to abortion.” Biden and Harris, on the other hand, support increasing federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Biden’s proposed health plan includes taxpayer-funded contraception. He has stated on numerous occasions that he will defend Roe v. Wade.
-Foreign Policy and Trade: Trump has a staunch “America First” policy. He has withdrawn from the Paris Climate Accords in order to benefit American economy and industry. He has withdrawn from NAFTA and authored his own trade deals with Mexico and Canada. He has imposed high tariffs on China. He imposed tariffs on all imported steel and aluminum. Biden supports a more liberal trade market. He has denounced Trump’s tariffs on China. He has, in the past, signed deals that impose economic and environmental restrictions on the U.S.
-Coronavirus: Trump has downplayed the panic surrounding the virus since the beginning. He notoriously refused to wear a mask for months after the CDC reversed its position stating that masks did not mitigate the spread of the virus, and has subsequently been reticent to wear one in public. He has denounced government-imposed lockdowns and has demanded that church services be made available to the public. Biden has publicly claimed that he supports a national mask mandate. He warns of a coming “dark winter.” He continually blames Trump for the 228,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S., though he initially condemned action Trump took to combat the virus.
Let these three points serve to illustrate some of what is at stake in this election. Beyond competing policies, these are competing ideologies: Trump is a nationalist. Biden is a globalist. Trump is able to withstand withering criticism and attack for the perceived good of his nation. Biden is an experienced apologizer and flip-flopper. He has shown that he will bow to super-national powers and organizations to avoid being criticized.
Biden is leading the polls. The media has been working towards this moment for four years. Trump is working against formidable opponents and his defeat, though far from certain, is certainly possible. At these times, we would like to be able to turn to the Church for guidance and reassurance. Unfortunately, the Church is Herself under attack and does not appear to be a refuge for Her flock.
There’s another war that we American Catholics are engaged in. While the future of our country hangs in the balance, the leadership of the Catholic Church has proven itself not to be trusted. Pope Francis has recently endorsed same-sex civil unions, a move that garnered him global headlines. Bishop Barron, a prominent conservative bishop, has endorsed a book by Fr. James Martin, a professed homosexual priest. Many U.S. bishops have imposed restrictions on the faithful’s access to the sacraments because of coronavirus-related concerns. They have done so without the prompting of the government. Access to the sacraments, while greater than it was in March and April, remains at a drastically reduced level. Priests seem apathetic towards the restrictions, which are spiritually suffocating their flock. And while Catholics everywhere are facing widespread persecution from without the Church, the Pope finds it a fitting time to contradict 2,000 years of inspired tradition, the words of Scripture, and natural moral law by endorsing same-sex unions. The leader of the Church has publicly betrayed Her by his inaction towards certain issues and his action towards others. It is not easy to be a Catholic right now. It is not easy to be an American.
“Have confidence, I have overcome the world,” says the Lord (John 16:33), and with these words, let us cast aside any fear and doubt. The Lord has foreseen this. He is King of the Universe, and has created this world, has created us to live in this world and at this time, and has already won the victory for us. Let us come to know him intimately in the silence of adoration. The hierarchy of the Church is rotting, but the heart of the Church, the Eucharist, is as welcoming, inviting, and refreshing as ever. Let us not forget our Lord’s rebuke to Peter: “Thou savourest not the things that are of God, but the things that are of men.” (Matthew 16:23). Pope Francis has fallen into the same trap. It is not a new phenomenon. We can pray for him. He can correct himself and repair the rift he has made. No matter what happens on November 3rd, man cannot do anything to make us fear. The worst we have to fear is death, and Christ has trampled death by His death. Let us proceed into the maw of the unknown with joy and song. If we remain close to Christ, we cannot lose.