After Donald Trump pulled off what was for many a surprising victory in the United States election, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin offered his prayers that the new president-elect would promote peace in a world torn by conflict.
“First of all, we take note with respect the will of the American people in this exercise of democracy which they tell me was characterized by a large turnout. Then we congratulate the new president, so that his government can be truly fruitful,” Cardinal Parolin told Vatican Radio Nov. 19.
He also assured of his prayers, “so that the Lord illuminate him and sustain him in the service of his homeland, naturally, but also of the peace and wellbeing of the world.”
“I believe that today it is needed for everyone to work to change the global situation, which is a situation of serious laceration and grave conflict.”
Cardinal Parolin spoke at the inauguration of academic year of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.
His comments came in wake of the election of Republican Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America, concluding what has been seen as a particularly grueling election cycle.
To the shock and surprise of many, Trump, who walked into Election Day as the perceived underdog, came out on top with 289 electoral votes, well over the required 270 needed to win, while Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton lagged behind with just 218 electoral votes, according to CNN.
Although the Catholic vote was in large part divided due to prolife and immigration issues, one of the key topics that likely loomed large in the minds of Catholics as Trump’s victory was announced was his promise to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, and as well as Pope Francis’ response.
During his Feb. 19 inflight news conference en route from Juarez to Rome, Pope Francis responded to criticism of Trump, who had called the Pope “political” and threatened to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.
“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,” the Pope said.
In a Feb. 19 statement the following day, the former Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, said assured that Francis’ comment “was never intended to be, in any way, a personal attack or an indication of how to vote.”
The Pope has repeatedly talked about the need to build bridges rather than walls throughout his pontificate, and his remarks should be understood in this sense, he said at the time.
“It is not a specific issue, limited to this case. It is his general attitude, very consistent with a courageous following of the Gospel’s teachings of welcoming and solidarity.”
When asked what the Vatican’s response to this situation was in light of Trump’s election, Cardinal Parolin said we must wait to “see how the president moves.”
“Normally they say: it’s one thing to be a candidate, it’s another thing to be president, to have a responsibility,” he said, explaining that for him, “even from what I’ve heard, although I have not looked into it much, the future president has already expressed himself as a leader.”
However, when it comes to specific issues and how Trump will act on them, “we will see what choices he makes and according to that you can also make a judgment,” he said, adding that “it seems premature to make judgments.”
After the final election results came in and Trump had officially received a call from Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton conceding defeat, he gave a 17 minute speech in which he thanked Clinton for “a very hard fought campaign,” and offered thanks to those who supported him along the way.
He said the time has come for America “to bind the wounds of division, we have to get together…I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.”
Trump pledged that he would be a president “for all Americans,” and that by working together, “we will begin the urgent task of rebuilding our country and renewing the American dream.”
Having spent his entire life in business and looking at the “untapped potential in projects and people” throughout the world, the president-elect said he wants every single American to have “the possibility to realize his or her fullest potential,” adding that the forgotten will be “forgotten no longer.”
Speaking of a stronger economy and better highways, infrastructure and care of veterans, Trump also offered a word on foreign policy, stating that “we will get along with all other nations willing to get along with us.”“I want to tell the world community that while we will always put America’s interests first, we will deal fairly with everyone: all people and all other nations. We will seek common ground, not hostility, partnership, not conflict,” he said.
Although the election cycle “was tough,” Trump promised his best, adding “I look forward very much to being your president…I can only say that while the campaign is over, our work on this movement is really just beginning.”
However, with many Catholics perplexed and unsure as to what a Trump presidency will hold, some Catholic leaders have already spoken out on the need to remain unified and steadfast in maintaining and promoting Catholic values.
In a speech at the Catholic Distance University Founder’s Award Dinner, where he was the recipient of the Founder’s Award, Supreme Knight of Columbus said Nov. 5 that said that no matter the election result, Catholics must be a sign of unity, rather than division.
“The question we should ask ourselves is in what way Catholics in America can be a future source of unity and reconciliation or whether we will be a cause of further division and hostility,” he said, noting that the answer to the question “will depend in large measure upon what it means today to be a Catholic in America.
“In other words, what is fundamental to our identity as Catholics?”
In a series of tweets before the final election results came in, Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles offered his own insight as to what the answer of that question is, and where Catholics should be keeping their focus as things move forward.
“We are not Republicans or Democrats or liberals or conservatives. Before everything else, we are followers of Christ,” he said in a Nov. 8 tweet, adding in a second that “we are children of God, made in his image, called to be saints & to work for his Kingdom, which is the family of God on earth.”
In his comments at the Founder’s Award Dinner, Anderson stressed that no matter what the outcome of the election was, division would still run deep in the U.S., including within the Catholic community.
The solution to this, he said, will require “faithful Catholics to fully exercise their responsibilities as citizens” at a time when many are disheartened and frustrated.
“Now is the time for more – not less – Catholic values in our electoral process. Now is the time for more – not less – Catholic values in our nation.”
by Elise Harris