November 11, 2016
Dear Catholics of the Diocese of Las Cruces,
I offer a few thoughts in the days after the election of our next president, Donald Trump. Over the past many decades, the Catholic bishops in the United States have worked with various presidents as well as with Congress on issues and policies that concern the well-being of society, families, and individuals, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized. We will work with Mr. Trump on issues on which we agree. I think, specifically, of pro-life and religious liberty issues. On issues that he might propose or support that hurt the common good, the poor, or the vulnerable, particularly immigrants and refugees, we will raise our concerns in a prophetic voice. We will respect him as president and honor the office of the Presidency.
Many of us were deeply offended by Mr. Trump’s rhetoric and some of his proposed policies. Those wounds run deep. Many have asked the question: what do we tell our children? What do we tell them, particularly when the president-elect has demonstrated behavior unbecoming of a public figure before and during his campaign? Many are in shock, others grieve, and some are angry. People have a right to voice their displeasure and their concerns about Mr. Trump. We must, however, be civil and peaceful. As to the above questions, the best answers are found in the Gospel and the Catholic moral doctrine. These are immutable teachings that we should profess positively and without bitterness. We pray for those whose flaws have become public, wounding, and scandalous, that God’s mercy might touch their conscience and transform their lives and behavior.
The democratic process, nonetheless, has been followed and Mr. Trump has won the election. As such, he is the president-elect of the United States of America. This, of course, does not mean that he has unbridled power or authority. Our federal government enjoys a division and balance of powers among the three branches of government. Moreover, our civic engagement in the democratic process as citizens does not end with the election. We have the right and obligation to remain engaged. The president has the obligation to uphold the Constitution and to follow the laws of the country. The Legislative and Judicial branches of the federal government, no doubt, will hold him accountable to the law. As the president represents the entire country, we have a right to expect from him not only civility, but that he truly works for the common good, both at home and abroad.
Finally, let us pray for President-elect Trump. Let us pray that he will truly work for the common good. Let us unite as a family of faith to pray for our country, for a peaceful transition of power, and for peace in the world, our common home.
Bishop Oscar Cantú