Exit polls reveal that American Catholics helped Republican Donald Trump win the White House on Tuesday.
According to the New York Times, 52 percent of Catholics voted for Trump, while 45 percent voted for pro-abortion Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Ahead of the election, many Catholic leaders urged their parishioners to educate themselves about the candidates’ positions on Catholic teachings, especially abortion, before voting. And the candidates’ stated positions on abortion could not have been more different.
Clinton took an extreme stance on abortion, promising to appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices who would uphold Roe v. Wade and abortion on demand for years to come. Clinton also said she would work to repeal the Hyde Amendment and force taxpayers to fund abortions – a position that did not sit well even with many Democrats. And during the last presidential debate, Clinton openly defended partial-birth and late-term abortions, a position that few Americans share.
Her running mate, Tim Kaine, is a self-professed Catholic, but he also has an extensive pro-abortion voting record. Several Catholic bishops rebuked Kaine for supporting abortion while claiming to be Catholic.
In October, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas called Kaine a “cafeteria Catholic” and questioned why he claimed to be “personally pro-life” while voting to keep abortion on demand legal.
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“With regard to the imposition of religious beliefs, Senator Kaine appears to have no qualms with his public positions conforming with his religious beliefs with regard to such issues as the church’s opposition to racism or our preferential option for the poor,” Naumann wrote. “… Why is Senator Kaine personally opposed to abortion, if he does not believe that it is the taking of an innocent human life?”
Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, posted a similar message on Facebook in July, questioning Kaine’s political support of abortion.
In contrast, Trump picked a vice president with a strong pro-life record and outlined several pro-life initiatives for his presidency, including making permanent the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding of abortion through Medicaid.
A number of pro-lifers have been concerned about the sincerity of Trump’s pro-life position. He used to identify as pro-choice on abortion, and has complimented the abortion giant Planned Parenthood. In the past, he also made some crude statements about women that drew a lot of criticism.
However, Trump gained the support of some wavering voters after choosing pro-life Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice president. Others were encouraged by Trump’s list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees and his promise to appoint “pro-life” justices to the high court.
Many Catholic leaders emphasized the sanctity of life as a key issue in the presidential race. More than 1 million unborn babies die in abortions every year in the U.S., and the next president could have a heavy influence on the future of abortion laws based on their nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court and lower courts.
In late October, for example, Bishop William Murphy, head of the Diocese of Rockville Centre in Long Island, wrote a letter that was read at Masses, telling Catholics that support for abortion “should disqualify any and every such candidate from receiving our vote,” Newsday reports.
“The human person, made in the image and likeness of God, is the ultimate measure of what is good or bad, right or wrong,” Murphy wrote. “Every person is sacred and has inherent rights which political leaders must protect and serve. Those who do not are unworthy of our vote.”
Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York also wrote a strong message in October urging leaders to defend the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person.
“Am I wrong to wonder especially about the toxic effect that the unlimited abortion license has had on the Republic founded on self-evident truths, and the right to life?” Dolan wrote. “When what should be nature’s safest sanctuary, the mother’s womb, becomes the most perilous place for the most innocent and fragile life, should we be shocked when any life deemed ‘in the way’ is in hunting season?”