Pope Francis on Sunday advised U.S. Catholics who feel they are torn between two imperfect candidates for president to study and pray before they vote and to make sure to follow their conscience.
During his traditional, freewheeling in-flight news conference with reporters on the plane returning from Azerbaijan, Francis was asked how he would counsel American faithful and what wisdom they should keep in mind.
“You have asked me a question that describes a difficult choice because, according to you, there are difficulties with one and difficulties with the other,” the pope said, without naming Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.
In posing the question, the reporter made allusions to Clinton’s support of abortion and Trump’s statements vilifying migrants and religious minorities.
“During political campaigns, I never say a word,” the pope said. “The people are sovereign. I would only say, study the proposals well, pray and choose with your conscience.”
In this seemingly most contentious of election years, I have noticed that the people of faith are taking it better. Perhaps it’s because we don’t worship politicians and, despite the importance of the election, remain somewhat more emotionally detached. I have read several articles written by people from different religions examining the choices this year and whether either of the major candidates can be voted for in good conscience. Many different conclusions have been reached. I mention it because I have been involved in politics almost my whole adult life, and I have always been a person of faith. So I pay attention to both. I honestly don’t remember an election in my voting lifetime where the faith-based angle was brought in to wrestle with the choices as much as it is this year.
Sure, we all pray about the choices, but I don’t remember it being written about as much before. I think that’s a pretty good barometer for just how stressful and difficult this election is for so many.
Time to get back to praying and studying. As of tonight, “hiding on a secluded” island is the answer I seem to be getting.