This Election, I’m Betting on Catholics to Follow Pope Francis

Since his election to the papacy, Pope Francis has challenged the world to embrace the needs of all, especially those at the economic margins of our society. He reminds us all of this challenge frequently, through historic visits to the U.S. Capitol, on unprecedented long airplane interviews, and even on Twitter. This election year, one thing is clear: Catholics understand Pope Francis’s challenge and are responding.

While Pope Francis spreads his message of welcome and inclusion, it appears some politicians choose to continue the dog whistle call of the far right –with a single issue — in an attempt to control the Catholic vote. But, this year it won’t work. Catholics know this election is not about a single issue, not just about the unborn. This election is about the future of the 100%, not the top 1%, not the 99%, not the 47%. All are at stake in this election.

Pope Francis put concern for the common good, for mending the gaps in our society, and for ensuring that all can live with dignity back front and center in Catholic dialogue. In doing so, he has given Americans who have been told otherwise for years a way to vote their faith and to do so with their heads held high. It turns out, says our Pope, that you can be a Catholic voter who prioritizes social and economic justice and equity. These are complex times calling for complex analysis.

People concerned with injustice, oppression, and poverty are the Pope Francis voters and this is the Catholic vote in 2016: No longer divided, but prescient. Now, we are asking: How do we respond to those who are being left out of our economy?

The campaigns would be well advised to engage this issue. The new Pope Francis voters are listening not just to campaign slogans but to the deeper story and lifelong positions of the candidates.

The revelation of the gutter language used by Mr. Trump shocked any person of faith and cannot be condoned. Time and again it demonstrates his disregard for women and disregard for those at the margins. The Pope Francis voters of our nation will send a resounding message: Donald Trump’s bigotry, misogyny, and racism are not consistent with faith values.

Mr. Trump’s abusive attitudes don’t stop with women. He has consistently denigrated Muslims, called people living in poverty “losers,” said all immigrants are criminal (even though he employs them in his buildings), and it doesn’t stop there. Anyone who riles Mr. Trump or does not satisfy his vanity receives the brunt of his ridicule. Donald Trump’s rhetoric, which to be clear has been revealed over and over again in this campaign, makes it even more apparent that this election is about policy AND about character. My conclusion is that anyone who cares about the dignity of all people, the needs of our earth, and the call to justice must make their choice of candidates on that basis.

The questions of our time include: How do we mend the income and wealth disparities in our nation? How do we engage the issue of white privilege and racism? How do we provide access to safe and affordable housing? How can we create a healthcare system that works for everyone and does not privilege the few? What does it mean to be a leading nation in the 21st century? We need to answer these complex life questions this election season. Pope Francis voters can handle this complexity and make a choice based on the needs of all.

Faith matters, people matter, our world matters. With everything that is happening in our nation and in our world, I am confident that Catholics will vote in response to Pope Francis’s call to end the exploitation of our people and our earth. This election, I’m betting on Catholics to follow Pope Francis.