MSW, highlighting a presentation by Millennial writer Nichole Flores, writes:
There was an entire conference on the subject of polarization in which I participated, at the University of Notre Dame, which resulted in the book Polarization in the US Catholic Church: Naming the Wounds, Beginning to Heal….
All of the contributions at the conference were excellent, but one has taken on greater significance for me in the past year of Trump: Professor Nichole Flores’ presentation “When Discourse Breaks Down: Race and Aesthetic Solidarity in the U.S. Catholic Church.” As I listened to Flores deliver her talk back in 2015, I found it interesting and provocative, but now I realize that the issue of race cuts through our society and our church in ways I had hoped were behind us.
Like many Americans, I hoped we had crossed a frontier with the election of our first black president. Yes, there were still too many incidents in which young black males were victims of violence at the hands of police, and, yes, the income differences between races remained persistent and wrong, but I did not see race as the motivating driver of politics that it had been in, say, the 1950s and 1960s. I was wrong.
We have learned, as a church, that racism still has the power to drive a political narrative, an ugly narrative to be sure, and one the finds a home in the hearts of too many Catholics. Even if we stipulate that many white Catholics do not warm to the president’s stoking of racial animus, too many American Catholics are prepared to overlook or dismiss the racism Trump espouses. Too many Catholics do not see racism for the sin that it is, nor care to examine the evil effects of that sin.
The pattern is obvious: Whenever Trump feels he needs a boost, he returns to the alt-right, white-nationalist themes that rile up his base. That is his core comfort zone because it animates his most devoted supporters. And many of those supporters are Catholics. At a time when our wonderful pope calls us continually to an inclusive vision of the church and of society, we have a president who has built his political strength on divisiveness and exclusion….
The president is a man with no moral compass. We knew that a year ago when he won the presidency. But what has become more and more obvious is that there is a moral vacuum at the heart of our society today, not just on this issue or that but systemically. Many of us disagreed with some of the moral conclusions of previous presidents, but we did not have to contend with a complete lack of a moral framework in the most visible and consequential leader in our polity.
The leaders of our church will meet in Baltimore next week. I wonder if they will even discuss the moral crisis the nation faces on account of the Trump presidency.