In a just-published essay at Religion Dispatches, Patricia Miller takes a sharp look at the discernible trend of white Catholics towards Hillary Clinton and away from Donald Trump. I discussed this trend several weeks ago, calling it slight. Patti Miller offers persuasive evidence for it as more than a slight trend, and notes, in particular, the movement of white church-going Catholics of the John Paul II church in the direction of the Democratic candidate and away from the Republican one — a noteworthy trend, when that demographic has been trending "with alacrity" to the GOP since 2000, as she states.
Why this movement of white, church-going JPII Catholics in the direction of Hillary Clinton when the U.S. bishops have done everything but stand on their heads in recent decades to insist that faithful Catholics vote Republican because of abortion and same-sex marriage? Here's Patti Miller's take on that question:
For one thing, they no longer have bishops telling them not to [vote for the pro-choice feminist]. If it seems awfully quiet in the Catholic trenches this year, that’s because for the first time in some 15 years there isn't a clutch of powerful prelates telling Catholics they're going to hell if they vote for pro-choice Democrats and intimating they have the Vatican to back them up.
This is partly due to the influence of Pope Francis, who has let it be known that such blatant politicking is no longer welcome, and partly due to their own hubris. Cardinal Bernard Law? Disgraced by the "Spotlight" scandals and packed off to Rome (where he is enjoying a cushy retirement). Cardinal Francis George? Deceased. Cardinal Timothy Dolan? Wised-up and politic enough to know that there's no point in going against the Francis tide (although he couldn't resist calling out pro-choice Catholics, claiming some kind of trademark on the word "Catholic"). Cardinal Raymond Burke? Cooling his heels in a ceremonial role after a humiliating demotion by Pope Francis for publicly opposing his effort to modernize family doctrine. That pretty much leaves Cardinal Charles Chaput shouting in the wilderness.
No wonder the bishops, who have thrown away their moral teaching authority by the handfuls in their handling of the abuse crisis, need, as surrogates to try to convince Catholics to vote for the candidate of God's party right-wing white evangelicals who still want to beat the anti-abortion and anti-gay-marriage drums.
The graphic is a clip from one of several "Catholic voter guides" that have circulated in the past several elections — with the U.S. Catholic bishops' obvious consent — instructing Catholics to cast their votes on the basis of "non-negotiables." The clip is from Colleen Kochivar-Baker's Enlightened Catholicism blog, October 2012 — seemingly a century ago, now that Trump has burst on the scene.