Cdl. Burke: ‘Every Vote Counts’

News: Commentary
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  September 6, 2016   

Trump reaches out to Catholics while Cdl. Burke tells them not to "opt out"

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ROME ( - Donald Trump is reaching out to Catholics while Cdl. Raymond Burke is telling disgruntled conservatives to not "opt out" because "every vote counts."

Trump reached out to Catholics over the weekend on the occasion of Mother Teresa's canonization by recalling her life and work. Polls show more than 50 percent of Catholics are voting for Hillary Clinton while roughly 30 percent are voting for Trump. Many conservatives are thinking of voting third party or not voting at all.

Last week, Cdl. Burke, a well-traveled American and former prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court, reminded Catholics in the United States of their moral obligation to vote responsibly even when both candidates are undesirable. "I understand these sentiments very well," he remarked. "But one also has to be very prudent, and know that by not voting at all you are probably favoring one candidate or another. The moral weight to voting is indeed very heavy. In other words, every vote counts."

He added that voting for an unlikely third-party candidate would have the same result as not voting at all.

In speaking at an international teleconference in Rome, Cdl. Burke, the current patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, presented the time honored Catholic position of voting for the lesser of two evils. He urged disillusioned Catholics to vote for the candidate who "at least in some way, advance the common good, both with respect to the good of human life, the good of the family, the freedom of conscience, the care of the poor."

It would be hard to be more pro-abortion than Clinton, who claims the unborn child has no constitutional rights and taxpayers should fund abortions. She has also promised to appoint pro-abortion justices to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump, who is no St. Teresa, nevertheless would impose restrictions on abortion. He also wants to repeal the Johnson Amendment, which has prevented tax-exempt organizations, such as churches and educational institutions, from endorsing political candidates since 1954.

Trump is heralding this issue under the banner of religious freedom. "An amendment, pushed by Lyndon Johnson, many years ago, threatens religious institutions with a loss of their tax-exempt status if they openly advocate their political views," he said. "I am going to work very hard to repeal that language and protect free speech for all Americans."

Burke urged dismayed Catholics not to give up. "More than likely the judgment will be that neither candidates ideally answers these questions all in the way that we want," His Eminence commented. "I don't say any of this in a kind of easy way. But I do think that Catholics especially need to be very cautious and not simply opting out, or good pro-life people and good pro-family people, simply just throwing up their hands."

Watch the panel discuss Trump's outreach to the African-American community in "The Download—Trump and the Black Vote."


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