In the United States, after obtaining 290 electoral votes over Hillary Clinton’s 228 votes, Donald Trump won the presidential election on November 8, 2016. He will move into the White House on January 20, 2017. Known for his immense wealth, his gigantic buildings, his divorces and his reality TV show, Barack Obama’s replacement created quite a surprise, proving wrong the polls that had all promised a win for Hillary Clinton.
The New York Times, quoted by I.Media on November 9, estimated that 52% of Catholics voted for Donald Trump, while 45% voted for Hillary Clinton. On November 9, 2016, the website Cath-info translated a commentary by the conservative magazine National Catholic Register in which Matthew Bunson analyzed the importance of the Catholic vote that represents a quarter of the American electorate.
According to the American journalist, Trump won Catholics over by campaigning as ‘pro-life’, and exposing Clinton as a truly militant supporter of abortion “in a way that many Americans may not have fully realized.” And the author of the editorial wondered: “Did pro-life Catholics help win the election for Donald Trump? While they could not claim exclusive credit, they certainly played their part in (this) election.” The day after the election, the outgoing president of the United States Conference of Bishops, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, declared in a press release published by the Conference that the American bishops “look forward to working with President-elect Trump to protect human life from its most vulnerable beginning to its natural end.” Anne Dolhein explained on the website reinformation.tv on November 10 that the prelate “congratulated a man who has caused many controversies, and called on Trump to govern for the common good, while inviting everyone, Democrats and Republicans alike, to ‘see the face of Christ in our neighbors, especially the suffering or those with whom we may disagree’.”
In an interview with journalist Eugenio Scalfari conducted on the eve of the election and published by the newspaper La Repubblica on November 11, Pope Francis declined to voice his position because he does “not pass judgments on people and politicians” and simply wants “to understand the suffering that their approach causes the poor and excluded.” However, on his way back from Mexico in February 2016, when speaking of Donald Trump and his intentions to build a wall on the border between America and Mexico, the Sovereign Pontiff did declare that “a person who thinks only about building walls is not Christian.”
On November 10, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State for the Holy See, also answered reporters’ questions on the election while presenting a collection of texts by Cardinal Bergoglio. According to the press agency I.Media on November 11, the sovereign pontiff’s right hand man took this opportunity to voice the Holy See’s position: “We wait to see what choices Donald Trump will make during his mandate. Let’s give him time to begin.” In a message on Radio Vatican on November 9, Cardinal Parolin declared that he respects “the will expressed by the American people” and presented “his best wishes and prayers for the new president of the United States.”
American Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, patronus of the sovereign Order of Malta, spoke out twice in the Italian and American press on the election of the New York millionaire, on November 9 and 10. According to I.Media on November 11, 2016, the prelate explained to the National Catholic Register that the election of a candidate who was “completely out of the normal system of politics” is a “clear sign” that the American people have “awoken to the really serious situation in which the country finds itself with regard to the fundamental goods that constitute the common good”, such as “the protection of human life” and “religious liberty”. As for the Orthodox, the patriarchate of Moscow declared to the Russian press agency Interfax that this election “gives hope” for an “improvement of the entire system of international relations” and “the creation of a unified global coalition against terrorism.”
Metropolitan Hilarion de Volokolamsk, head of the department for external church relations, hopes that Trump’s arrival will allow a change in “the Middle East question”, and he added that “Islamic State terrorists would not be so successful in Syria and Iraq if they did not get international support.”