By Tânia Rêgo/ABr (Agência Brasil) [CC BY 3.0 br], via Wikimedia Commons

By Tânia Rêgo/ABr (Agência Brasil) [CC BY 3.0 br], via Wikimedia Commons

Pope Francis wants U.S. Catholic voters to “pray and choose in conscience”

The political scene in the United States has blown up with the coming elections in just over a month’s time. As political temperatures rise and as the two leading candidates for president of the most powerful nation on earth fight it out, the Pope has waded into the fray in a move that might influence the Catholic voting electorate in the country.

On Sunday October 2, the pope gave an even handed opinion on the state of the presidential elections in America, saying, “I never say a word about electoral campaigns. The people are sovereign. I will only say: Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.” He also went on to weigh in on the political nature of the United States, stating, “When in any country there are two, three or four candidates who don’t satisfy everyone, it means that perhaps the political life of that country has become too politicized and that it does not have much political culture. People say ‘I’m from this party’ or ‘I’m from that party,’ but effectively, they don’t have clear thoughts about the basics, about proposals.”

This is not the first time Pope Francis has been involved in the 2016 presidential electoral cycle. In February, as the Democratic and Republican primaries were still underway, he got into a spat with the then Republican contender for nominee Donald Trump. The Pope was just from visiting the Mexican border, and at the time there was controversy over Trump’s plan to build a wall that ostensibly would keep Mexicans from getting into the U.S. While speaking to journalists, Pope Francis remarked:

“A person who thinks only about building walls — wherever they may be — and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel.

As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt."

Pope Francis’ vocal comments on Trump’s proposal of building a wall along the U.S. border and Mexico got a response from Trump. He commented, “I don't think he understands the danger of the open border we have with Mexico. And I think Mexico got him to do it because Mexico wants to keep the border just the way it is, because they’re making a fortune and we’re losing.” Trump further went on to state, “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President.”

Trump’s public ‘brawl’ with Pope Francis and the Vatican raised eyebrows all over the country, but he still went on to clinch the Republican primaries to become the nominee for the 2016 election cycle. Issues such as immigration are usually hot topics among Republicans, which politicized Pope Francis’ comments in February. In June of this year, Pew Research Center in a survey demonstrated that Clinton was 17 points ahead of Trump in the Catholic demographic, mainly because of the huge Latino Catholic demographic. 

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