Catholic Trumpism Is Reigniting The ‘American Problem’ Within Pope Francis’ Church

By Massimo Faggioli          March 8, 2016                 Huffington Post on-line

The rise of Donald Trump in the race for the Republican nomination is based in part on a consensus among conservative Catholics in America, who prefer him over the other Republican candidates (Cruz, Kasich and Rubio), who vaunt a far less marked religious appeal. There were signs of this during the primaries in various states, most notably in Michigan. What’s most interesting is that the xenophobic and nationalist candidate has earned the vote of a majority of Catholic Republicans, either unaware or uninterested in the fact that Pope Francis said, just three weeks ago during his return flight from Mexico, that Trump’s message “is not Christian.”

The phenomenon of Catholic Trumpism lays bare several deep internal contradictions and trends at work in American Catholicism. The first deals with the evolution of the American Catholic church and its inherent political alignment. In 2008 the election of Obama to the office of the President highlighted a stratification of votes among Catholics not only along social and ideological lines, but ethnic lines as well. In the last two presidential elections, white Catholics voted by a large majority for Republican candidates, while non-white Catholics voted for the Democrats. The success of Trump (who stood out during the early part of Obama’s presidency for accusing the President of not being born in the United States, and therefore having been elected illegitimately) among conservative Catholics is therefore part of a trend that was already clear during the previous decade within the American church. A church, worth noting, that is still run by white leadership, but with a majority that will cease to be white well before the midway point of this century, turning largely Latino and Asian, along with a small Afro-American minority.

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