Read the Pope’s Message to Freshly Inaugurated President Trump

Read the Pope’s Message to Freshly Inaugurated President Trump January 20, 2017

(Pope Francis, Private audience of Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice CAPP at Clementine Hall, Vatican City; Source: Wikimedia Commons, )
(Author: Christoph Wagener; Pope Francis, Private audience of Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice CAPP at Clementine Hall, Vatican City; Source: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0)


I’m tired of political commentary. I suspect I engaged in too much of it when I didn’t have anything else to say. I probably should have shut up instead. This will be my attempt at objectivity.

Townhall reports the Trump Inauguration has set a religious record:

President-elect Donald Trump’s will have more prayers read during his inauguration ceremonies than any president in American history.

Trump, who began Inauguration Day at St. John’s Church for a service, will have six religious prayers, three invocations, and three benedictions during Friday’s ceremonies.

Cardinal Dolan’s invocation (ironically?) came from the Book of Wisdom, which, appropriately enough, isn’t included in the Protestant Bible’s canon:

God of our ancestors and Lord of mercy, you have made all things. And in your providence have charged us to rule the creatures produced by you, to govern the world in holiness and righteousness, and to render judgment with integrity of heart. Give us wisdom, for we are your servants, weak and short-lived, lacking in comprehension of judgment and of laws. Indeed, though one might be perfect among mortals, if wisdom which comes from you be lacking, we count for nothing. Now with you is wisdom, who knows your will and was there when you made the world, who understands what is pleasing in your eyes, what is conformable with your commands, send her forth from your holy heavens. From your glorious throne, dispatch her that she may be with us and work with us, that we may grasp what is pleasing to you. For she knows and understands all things and will guide us prudently in our affairs and safeguard us by her glory.

This caused at least one Twitter use to complain of no mention of Christ by the Catholic bishop. A new word for you: Christolatry.

Finally, The Atlantic reports on the wishes Pope Francis sent to the new president:

512IyDr0lAL__SX324_BO1,204,203,200_Upon your inauguration as the forty-fifth President of the United States of America, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of my prayers that Almighty God will grant you wisdom and strength in the exercise of your high office. At a time when our human family is beset by grave humanitarian crises demanding far-sighted and united political responses, I pray that  your decisions will be guided by the rich spiritual and ethical values that have shaped the history of the American people and your nation’s commitment to the advancement of human dignity and freedom worldwide. Under your leadership, may America’s stature continue to be measured above all by its concern for the poor, the outcast and those in need who, like Lazarus, stand before our door. With these sentiments, I ask the Lord to grant you and your family, and all the beloved American people, his blessings of peace, concord and every material and spiritual prosperity.

This is a pretty standard subordination of politics to theological concerns, rather than the tiresome partisan bickering (it gets old really quickly) you see among so many Catholics. I’m grateful for the refusal to bow down to extra-ecclesial interests. I spent many years resisting the vision of the Catholic Church in the States as the Republicans at prayer. I believe that if the Church were to turn into the Democrats at an anti-Trump rally, which appears to be their only novel response to the trouncing they got at the last election.

Theology does not need to become more political in the same old stale American categories, instead the Church should be aiming to make politics more theological, more Christian. Too often the Church has let American politics dictate its agendas with disastrous results.

If you’re tired of the bickering, then you might want to check out a freshly published book on polarization among American Catholics (and what to do about it).

For more on America and the biblical deity see: Why Must God Hate the American Dream?

You can also look forward to my review of a great new book The Ethics of Time: A Phenomenology and Hermeneutics of Change by John Panateleimon Manoussakis, an Orthodox scholar who teaches at a Catholic university.

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If you need some silence after all the inauguration noise, then click away to the Seeking Silence interview with an expert on the topic.

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