John Jeremiah Sullivan:
Holy Father, as you know, the United States is approaching the end of a long presidential campaign, a very unpleasant campaign, that has received much attention in the world. Many American Catholics and conscientious persons are having difficulty choosing between two candidates, one of whom is far from certain aspects of the Church’s teachings, and another who has made statements denigrating immigrants and religious minorities. What advice would you give to the faithful in America? And what kind of wisdom would you suggest to them next month, when the elections will take place?
You are asking me a question about what you describe as a difficult choice, because in your view there are difficulties with both one and the other. During an election campaign, I never say a word. The people are sovereign, and all I will say is this: study the proposals well, pray, and choose in conscience! Now, I will set the issue aside and speak about something theoretical, rather than speaking about the concrete problem. When a country has two, three or four candidates who are unsatisfactory, it means that the political life of that country is perhaps overly “politicized” but lacking in a political culture. One of the tasks of the Church and of higher education is to teach people to develop a political culture. There are countries – I am thinking of Latin America – that are excessively politicized but lack a political culture. People belong to one party or another party or even a third, but for emotional reasons, without thinking clearly about the fundamentals, the proposals.