Follow Pope’s Example of ‘Meddling’ in Politics

By Sister Simone Campbell, SSS
October 24, 2016

The world’s Catholics now have a Pope who prioritizes the common good, and encourages Catholics to get involved in politics. He has said “a good Catholic meddles in politics,” and getting involved in politics this election is desperately needed. I predict that this year, the first presidential election since the election of Pope Francis, we will see a rise in the Pope Francis voter: People who are genuinely concerned with exploitation of our people and our earth. These Pope Francis voters will come together this election season to defeat bigotry and hate.

While Pope Francis’s message is one of welcome and inclusion, we know that some politicians continue the dog whistle call of the political far right, attempting to control the Catholic vote through a single issue. In 2016, it won’t work. Our faith calls us to address the needs of all the people at the margins of our society. It’s not just about the needs of the unborn or those on death row. It’s not just about the needs of the top 1 percent, or the 99 percent, but it’s about the 100 percent.

This election can’t be about a single issue, it cannot just be about protecting the unborn, but also about protecting immigrants, Muslims, women, children and people in poverty. Any Catholic who has heard Donald Trump disparaging immigrants as criminals and rapists, advocating for sexual assault and the exploitation of women, denigrating Muslims, demeaning people of color by labeling them thugs, and calling people in poverty losers knows that he is not a presidential candidate deserving of the Catholic vote.

Recently, leaked and stolen emails from 2012 have revealed a conversation among several Catholics who are now tied to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. This has been painted as “anti-Catholic bigotry.” Let me be clear: This is manufactured hysteria, a desperate political move and a farce. Those who are genuinely concerned about the interests of Catholics would promote the dignity of work, stand with those who are living in poverty against the structures of injustice, and rise above individual interest for the good of the whole community.

This October, I’m traveling through Cincinnati to talk with my fellow Nuns on the Bus, and all the Pope Francis voters who join him in his prayer: “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor!” Nuns on the Bus Ohio has been committed to this effort, holding politicians accountable for the voter purge which would hinder access to democracy, working with immigrants and refugees to improve access to citizenship, and protecting our environment as stewards of the earth.

I am coming to Cincinnati to meet with people who are pursuing employment and seeking housing opportunities, to learn more about their lives, and to talk about issues that are most important to them this election season. I am also coming to Cincinnati to talk with people who aren’t Catholic, but share the conviction that we must do all we can to care for the common good. I invite you to join me for an election discussion that focuses on the common good. As people of faith, we must be a model for the media and for our candidates that we want a substantive conversation, not fights that tear apart the fabric of our society.

In 2016, Catholics are Pope Francis voters who work for the common good. We must not allow our polarizing election to turn us around.

Originally published in the Cincinnati Enquirer.