The US church under President Trump

The 2017 CTS annual convention will focus on American Catholicism in the 21st century – an excellent topic for discussion. Where do you stand and what is the future of the US church in the next 4-8-10 years?

The victory of Donald Trump was made possible by a unlikely coalition of white evangelicals and while Catholics who feared a loss of economic security, white dominance, and the decline of Christian influence in our institutions. Their common cause was inspired by economic and racial resentment, traditional gender roles, and traditional family values.

What is needed is greater dialogue across social classes, races and ideologies. Pope Francis went to Lund in Sweden to celebrate reconciliation with Lutherans. He recently visited a Protestant church in Rome. He is in friendly dialogue with Muslims. In the US context of antagonism and culture war between right and left, the churches should speak in one voice in favor of national concord, social justice, and true democracy.

North American Catholicism does not have the equivalent of CELAM, the Latin American Bishops Conference, hence the horizon of the American bishops is limited to the US mainland. There is no input from Latin America although the US church is increasingly Latino. In the future the church should speak in one voice from Panama to Canada about common issues like racism, violence, social inequality, and immigration across borders.

The US has probably one of the most enlightened laity, thanks in great part to theology departments of the Catholic colleges and universities. But since 1976 when the bishops rejected the conclusions of the Detroit Call to Action which they themselves had called for, they have stopped listening. A national council with strong participation of the laity would be welcome.

“Dialogue is our method," said Pope Francis to the US bishops in 2015, "not as a shrewd strategy but out of fidelity to the One who never wearies of visiting the marketplace, even at the eleventh hour, to propose his offer of love.” Bishops will have to "exit" any notion of superiority: “Do not be afraid to set out on that ‘exodus’ which is necessary for all authentic dialogue.” Dialogue nationwide is what we most need.


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