On Faggioli’s feverish “Trump-Strickland-Barron” fantasy

Massimo Faggioli’s recent Commonweal essay is heavy on bombastic rhetoric and very light on data, arguments, and substance.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump tour the Sistine Chapel following their meeting with Pope Francis on May 24, 2017, in Vatican City. (Image: History in HD/Unsplash.com)

My friend, the journalist Christopher Altieri, says his least favorite form of writing is what he calls “ink on ink”. That is, a form of writing where one publication comments critically on something in a rival publication. I think Altieri’s instincts are sound but I am going to make an exception. Because every once in a while you read an opinion piece from a well-known public intellectual in a major publication that is so reckless you have to pause for a moment and ask yourself if what you are reading is satire.

Such was the case when I read a recent essay by Massimo Faggioli, professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, in Commonweal entitled “Will Trumpism Spare Catholicism?” Normally, I would not comment on such a poorly written essay, but this is in Commonweal, one of the oldest and most influential Catholic journals of opinion out there (and one I generally like). And the author has become one of the leading media voices in the American Church these days. There are also, as we shall see, issues at play that transcend the particular problems with this piece, which is why it is important to dissect its faults.

A new political axis of evil?

Faggioli is apparently concerned history is repeating itself with the current support Donald Trump seems to have from many conservative Catholics. But what historical parallel are we discussing here? in a nutshell, Faggioli is claiming just as there emerged in 1964 a growing connection between Goldwater conservatism and conservative Catholicism (which Faggioli calls the “Goldwater/McIntyre axis” after the Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles who was alleged to be pro-Goldwater and a racist), so too today do we see a new political alliance emerging, only this time it is what Faggioli calls a “Trump-Bishop Strickland axis”. Faggioli’s claims are feverish, to put it mildly:

But the “Trump-Strickland” axis isn’t just political. It mixes ahistorical, magisterial fundamentalism in militant Catholicism with nationalistic impulses masquerading as concern for the “forgotten” common American (white) man. …  The current axis poses greater danger because Strickland apes Trump in promoting a more strident, even violent, representation of conservative/populist concerns. Both basically ignore any authority but their own.

In the original essay, which was later edited, Faggioli alleges Bishop Robert Barron and his Word on Fire ministry are also a part of this new political axis of evil. More on that in a bit. But the deeper import is clear. Faggioli wants readers to fear self-described “orthodox” Catholics because they are part of an alleged movement which he loosely calls “Trumpism”. He worries out loud that American Catholicism will not be spared the ravages of this ill-defined thing which, though he never defines it, is held to be of decisive importance.

But the mask comes off early in the essay when Faggioli frets over this new alliance since it portends very bad things ahead for the Church and America once the benign alliance between Biden and Pope Francis goes away. He asks, with a clear tone of anxiety, “what will happen when Biden and Francis are gone?” The implication is that these two figures are like St. Paul’s katechon who are single handedly holding back the antichrist of Bishop Strickland and Donald Trump, with Word on Fire holding their beers. (Readers might not be surprised to know that Faggioli wrote a very positive and admiring book about Biden in early 2021 titled Joe Biden and Catholicism in the United States.)

But this is just pure bogeyman stuff insofar as Faggioli in no way establishes, using legitimate polling data, precisely why many Catholics will apparently vote for Trump. He chooses instead the path of dog whistling to the Leftist Catholic choir with language larded with all the favored targets. Further, he never seems to worry there is an emerging “Biden-Cupich” axis with which, one presumes, he finds nothing problematical or worth fearing. He apparently finds nothing nefarious, conspiratorial, or latently totalitarian in the politics of the Democratic party and thus engages in no pearl-clutching tut-tutting about an emerging axis between Leftist Catholics and Leftist demagogues. He frets American Catholic conservatism is heavily funded by rich folks (I suspect he means organizations like the Napa Institute), which is true, but never seems equally worried about the well-heeled Germans and their State-supported Church. Granted, the article is about American Catholicism, but fair is fair and the notion that only conservative groups are well-funded is empirically false.

Apparently, money is only dirty and somewhat conspiratorial in its motives when it flows to conservatives. Conservatives are always portrayed as a secret “cabal” of rich and anonymous operatives, whereas progressives are portrayed as brave and under-funded Don Quixotes tilting at the windmills of ecclesial power.

It might indeed be true (in fact, the data indicates it is) a majority of so-called “conservative” Catholics intend to vote for Trump. But that is a far cry from any alleged “Trumpism” and it in no way establishes those Catholics who are voting for him are doing so without deep reservations and without eyes wide open to Trump’s manifest flaws.

The essay falls apart early on when even Faggioli admits there really was not a Goldwater/McIntyre axis and that the Cardinal was falsely maligned as an overt racist when in point of fact he was really just a clueless apparatchik who just never grasped the depth of despair in the black community over the endemic racial prejudice of the time. Furthermore, Faggioli never mentions Goldwater was defeated by Johnson in one of the largest electoral landslides in history and the Catholic vote went overwhelmingly for Lyndon Johnson. Nor were there any loud voices in the hierarchy openly cheering-on the Goldwater candidacy. There may have been a few prelates who sympathized with Goldwater due to his rabid anti-communism, but there sure as heck was no “movement” by hierarchs to promote his candidacy.

So, the “big idea” that generated this essay has stress fractures in its very foundation since there never was a large movement, or even a noteworthy movement of any kind, involving Catholic support for Goldwater. Why bring it up at all? Why the comparison of the two eras? There simply is no comparison and no point of contact other than to say that then, as now, there are a small minority of Catholics who fall prey to populist demagogues. The whole comparison falls apart and it is just cringeworthy watching Faggioli trying to connect the dots of Goldwater-McIntyre-Trump-Strickland-Barron, when there are no connections, or even dots, at all.

The attack on Bishop Barron and Word on Fire

The only thing the essay gets right is that a forcibly retired bishop (Strickland) has shown strong support for Trump. And there are many so-called traditionalist Catholics who think Strickland and Trump are both heroes who have both been martyrs for truth and falsely maligned. How many traditionalists think like this? I have no idea. Probably quite a few within a certain demographic niche, but in the big picture, not that many. I know many traditionalists personally who want no part of Trump or Biden.

But remember, Faggioli’s thesis is there is a danger of a new “movement” of conservative Catholics tainting the Church with a Trumpist stain of racist demagoguery. And he offers no evidence for this other than holding up the lightning-rod example of Strickland, as if Strickland somehow is truly representative of a broad swath of American Catholicism.

This is the reason why he decided to smear Bishop Robert Barron and Word on Fire by insinuating Barron was also part of this new “Trump axis”. And it is a smear since there is not a shred of evidence that this is even remotely true. In fact, if anything Word on Fire and Bishop Barron are apolitical to a fault and never engage in partisan political endorsements of any kind.

Does Bishop Barron speak out on the so-called “culture wars”? Does he oppose woke cancel culture? Does he see something inchoately interesting and potentially important in the idiosyncratic weirdness and intensity of Jordan Peterson? Has he been somewhat critical – but not harshly so – of certain troubling elements in the Synod on synodality? The answer is “Yes” to all of those questions—but not one of them makes someone part of a new “Trump-Catholic axis”. I would also answer all of those questions with a “Yes” and yet I am resolutely opposed to Trump.

But Faggioli needs a conservative foil in order to keep his narrative going of a wonderful movement of the Spirit being ushered in by Pope Francis—a movement being impeded by those Catholic deplorables who still cling to Veritatis Splendor and who reject the view that 2013 marked a kind of “year zero” in the Church. Some of us still actually believe in Newman’s or Blondel’s concept of how tradition develops and reject the sophomoric recrudescence of neo-Montanist and Joachimite nonsense of a Church “on the move”.

Therefore, Faggioli had to invent some new dots to connect and, sensing the Strickland dot was made with disappearing ink since his shelf-life as a celebrity martyr is expiring, invented the notion that John Paul II and Benedict XVI-type Catholics who are lukewarm toward Francis are part of this cabal.

I know I am not. None of my friends are either. Nor is Bishop Barron.

For the record, I do not like Donald Trump and would never vote for him. I also will not vote for Biden. But here is the point: my deep suspicion is those Catholics who will vote for either one of these deeply problematical men are most likely well aware of the profoundly flawed nature of both and the corrupt process that gave us these awful choices. And so they will hold their noses and place their vote. But that hardly constitutes an emerging “axis” of anything.

Some will point out the essay by Faggioli has been edited to remove the reference to Bishop Barron. It is gone from the current online version and Commmonweal even notes this fact in the article. It was removed because Word on Fire threatened legal action if they did not edit it out. Some critics of Bishop Barron saw this as an example of thin-skinned overkill by the Goliath that is Word of Fire against the David that is Faggioli and Commonweal. Why be so litigious? Is Bishop Barron so image conscious that he can’t take a little criticism, both fair and unfair?

Let me get this straight. Commonweal can publish a reckless essay by Faggioli wherein he makes unfounded and potentially slanderous comments about Bishop Barron, and when Word on Fire threatens legal action, Commonweal edits the essay but never apologizes—and somehow Barron is at fault? In fact, Commonweal’s refusal to apologize indicates no remorse over the claims made by Faggioli and their statement clearly implies that the only reason they edited the piece was to avoid litigation.

Standing up to the false narrative

But the criticisms of Barron’s response ignore important facts. First, Barron and Word on Fire are routinely criticized, and quite harshly so, by both progressives and traditionalists, in many different venues. And yet they have never, to my knowledge, threatened legal action against any of them. So the charge of a thin-skinned inability to take criticism is absurd on its face.

Second, and to the charge of overkill, the presumption seems to be that the motivation for the legal threat was one of pure self-preservation and the protection of Barron’s “good name and reputation.” But this ignores the fact there are bigger issues at play here than just Barron’s reputation. Because what Commonweal’s non-apology indicates is there is more at stake in this kerfuffle than some bruised egos.

It is already the case that the current pontificate and its curial operatives hold a very dim view of the Church in the U.S. as a hotbed of reactionaries and “backwardists”. There is a deep and pernicious meme running through the Vatican these days that is a deeply distorting caricature of American Catholics as a bunch of rubes prone to fascist politics. And these distortions have had real world effects in the form of non-pastoral, non-accompanying, non-synodal, actions like Traditionis Custodes or the “in-your-eye” finger poking of American Catholicism in the form of episcopal appointments and red hats to men such as McElroy and Cupich.

Seen in this light, the threat by WOF for legal action can be viewed as something for which we should be thankful. Somebody with clout and some chutzpah finally punched back against this bully narrative of Catholic backwardists in league with Trump as the characteristic marker of all orthodox American Catholics. Word on Fire rightly understands that narratives matter and we cannot keep moving the goal posts of what counts as “right-wing extremism” as to be now so expansive as to include all conservative Catholics, simply because the Catholic Left has decided to embrace insane gender ideology and forms of Critical Theory that deconstruct everything up to and including the apostolic foundations of the Church.

A mere ten years ago, Word on Fire as a voice for Vatican II conservative Catholic orthodoxy in a fairly mainstream register would have alarmed only the most extreme types. But the narrative has now shifted to such an extent that some interviews with someone like Jordan Peterson constitutes an endorsement of far Right, Trumpist fascism.

Good on Word on Fire for saying the bullies must either fight or get off of the school yard. And shame on Commonweal for fueling the false narrative of a surging movement of backwardist American Catholic deplorables and their alleged “axis” with Trump.

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About Larry Chapp 61 Articles
Dr. Larry Chapp is a retired professor of theology. He taught for twenty years at DeSales University near Allentown, Pennsylvania. He now owns and manages, with his wife, the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Farm in Harveys Lake, Pennsylvania. Dr. Chapp received his doctorate from Fordham University in 1994 with a specialization in the theology of Hans Urs von Balthasar. He can be visited online at "Gaudium et Spes 22".


  1. We read: “Faggioli’s thesis is there is a danger of a new ‘movement’ of conservative Catholics tainting the Church with a Trumpist stain of racist demagoguery.”

    The only “movement” afoot is Massimo straining at stool. Figgioli Ravioli.

  2. Eighty percent of Evangelicals support Trump, which is one reason I cannot vote for Trump. Evangelicals have no respect for Catholics and if given the chance they would pass legislation detrimental to Catholics. The fact Trump is a liar, cheater, womanizer, draft dodger and an atheist that loves money are the other reasons I cannot vote for Trump.

    • Gerald, I fully intend to vote for Trump for one reason. I loathe what Deep State has done to destroy American’s Constitutional rights. Deep State is out to destroy President Trump. Trump challenges Deep State at every turn. My vote goes to Trump because we both hate what Deep State has done to destroy the USA. I will be able to live with my conscience; I doubt you will.

      • The problem with that is that Trump has publicly mused about the possibility that a president could pardon HIMSELF. If that is the case, all your musings about “Constitutional rights” will be quaint anachronisms, because we will be living in a dictatorship, even if you think that would be the dictatorship of a stable genius. And if the Democrats (Biden or maybe some last-minute replacement) get in, it’s also lurching towards a dictatorship. This election really is a case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”

        • Well, if Pres. Trump was tried & wrongly convicted simply to keep him out of the race then I’d say, sure. He can pardon himself in that case. Or at the very least file an appeal.
          The whole thing is an embarrassment. It reminds me of the old Soviet model of dealing with political opponents.

          • I concur here. The ridiculous court antics going on right now against Trump makes a mockery of Truth and Justice. He’ll appeal and take it all the way to SCOTUS if he has to, and he’ll win. This is a witch hunt after all. It never fails to amaze me that people don’t realize that Trump thinks out loud. Good or bad. Let’s remember that in all this time the Democrats have come up with exactly zero on him that will stick. So he’s probably a better guy than given credit for (and I’m not saying he isn’t far from perfect). I’m going to get a big laugh when just before Biden leaves office, he pardons himself and his entire family. That you can take to the bank.

        • Outis, I’ll take my chances with Trump. Anyone who’s willing to pull the covers on Big Government, Big Military, Big Pharma, Big Media, Big Ag, Big Brother, the FBI, CIA, FDA, etc, I’ll support. I don’t need a Mother Teresa to be my candidate. Look, we’re heading toward the dissolution of our country. Wake up. I’d encourage everyone here to listen to Tucker’s interview of Aaron Rodgers. Then get back to me.

          • Then you’re willing to take your chances with autocracy, because you hope (for some reason) the autocrat will be friendly to you.

            Bear in mind, though, that if Trump can pardon himself, so can any president from now on. Maybe Trump will not be the disaster he always teeters on the edge of being; maybe it will all go well. And then 2028 comes around, and you get an autocrat from behind curtain #3.

            William Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

            Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

            William Roper: “Yes, I’d cut down every law in England to do that!”

            Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man’s laws, not God’s! And if you cut them down, and you’re just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake!”

            The same principle applies here. Don’t tell me you care about the Constitution if you’re willing to make a president — any president — absolutely above the law.

        • Outis, regarding your comment below: Don’t dare put words in my mouth about Trump exonerating himself against any possible convictions.

        • Outis, there’s also musing among the Biden camp that if their candidate wins, he will pardon not just himself, but his son, his brother – in fact, his whole crime family.
          The only reason Biden himself does not muse is because, dumb as he is, he’s incapable of musing.

    • I was an Evangelical Protestant for the first 46 years of my life. The church I grew up in produced several Evangelical pastors who are nationally and internationally prominent and who have published best-selling and Catholic-friendly books about faith, among them John Ortberg and Gary Smalley (the author of the 5 love languages book, a concept which many Catholics accept and apply to their lives and families). I grew up routinely hearing internationally known Evangelical Protestant pastors and teachers speak in my church, as well as enjoying the ministries of excellent pastors, youth pastors, and music ministers.

      You are very wrong in your statement that Evangelicals have no respect for Catholics. I believe you are confusing “Evangelicals” with “Fundamentalists.” The two are very different.

      For the past 30 years or so, a movement has been occurring in Evangelicalism that encourages respect and admiration for the Catholic Church as “the first Christian church.”

      The first evidence that I saw of this was when Chuck Colson (R.I.P.), the Nixon “hatchet man” who was convicted of his crimes and served time in prison–and came out a Christian who started Prison Fellowship, wrote a book called Being the Body. Much of this book is about his exploration and acceptance of Catholicism as historically and doctrinally true Christianity, which many Evangelicals found shocking at first, but eventually many came to realize, through their own exploration of Catholicism, the truth of Colson’s conclusions.

      His studies resulted in him and Father Richard John Neuhaus starting an organization called Evangelicals and Catholics together. Not surprisingly, considering Satan’s diabolicalness, both men, Colson and Neuhaus, died within a few years of starting this organization. Read the book and you’ll understand why Satan wanted these men dead. God rest both of their souls!

      My late husband (died of COVID in 2020 at age 62 before the vaccines were available. R.I.P. my love) and I converted to Catholicism in 2004, our older daughter converted 2 years later, and last year, my younger daughter and her husband converted.

      I credit my Evangelical Protestant roots as one reason why I converted to Catholicism–I grew up loving Jesus and “accepting Him as my personal Lord and Savior” when I was just 7 years old. I never lost my faith or “went off the rails,” but prayed often, knew the Bible cover to cover, and was active in serving my churches (we moved several times) in music and children’s ministries.

      My knowledge of the Bible was definitely a contributing factor in my becoming Catholic, as I studied and realized that the Acts of the Apostles is all about…the Catholic Church!

      Other “famous” Evangelicals have also converted, including the late Thomas Howard. And most prominent, as well as many locally-prominent Evangelicals, have expressed respect for Catholicism and many work actively with Catholics in various ministries, including anti-abortion movements and pregnancy care centers, missions in poor countries (the pastor of one of my Evangelical churches served as a missionary in Viet Nam from 1957-fall of Saigon, and he often talked about working with the Catholic mission to build a leprosy clinic). I know for a fact that Baptist missions in countries in Iberoamerica work with Catholic medical missions.

      Yes, there is an “extremist” camp of Evangelical Protestant Christians–the “Jack T. Chick” groups who consider the Pope an Antichrist and the Catholic Church “the whore of Babylon.” But the same can be said of Catholics–there are groups of Catholics who are very far away from orthodox Catholicism. (BTW, I corresponded with Jack T. Chick when I was a teenager, and he was actually not as nutty as everyone thought he was, or at least, when he was younger, he was OK–as he got older, I think he slipped off the rails–but his tract, “Somebody Loves Me” is absolutely delightful.)

      The vast majority of Evangelical Protestant Christians respect the Catholic Church and are happy to work with Catholics in spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ and His love for us! You do them wrong to assume that they have no respect for Catholics. I hope you will seek out Evangelicals and get to know them. Of course you’ll find flaws–there are flaws in Catholics as well. We are sinners and we go astray from God’s perfect will.

      But to say that Evangelicals don’t respect Catholics, and that given the chance, they would “pass legislation detrimental to Catholics” is slanderous and false. As for their support of Pres. Trump–who else can they support?! To vote for “the perfect candidate” (who doesn’t exist) means handing the election to Pres. Biden (and eventually, if he should experience health issues–may God protect him!) to VP Kamala Harris, a rabid feminist and supporter of abortion rights.

      Indeed, Pres. Trump has many flaws, but he did appoint three (3) Supreme Court justices who struck down the odious Roe. V. Wade and handed the abortion issue back to the state, giving those of us who abhor the sinful practice of abortion the opportunity to locate in states that ban or greatly restrict abortion. Keep that in mind when you stand in the voting booth.

      I hope my words will be helpful to you, and will cause you to make peace with Evangelical Protestantism.

      • No, “Evangelicals” and “Fundamentalists” are not very different. You are confusing the ideas with the people. I was raised in an independent “Bible church”, then attended “Evangelical” Baptist churches in college, and finally converted to Catholicism. The differences between a Baptist church and a Bible church are less than the differences you’ll find between and within Baptist churches, and it is by no means unusual for people to drift from one to the other.

        • Another bigoted comment by Outis, par for the course. Read your church history. Fundamentalism and evangelicalism are not the same. The latter was an important correction to the former. Get your facts straight before sending in judgment.

          • You are talking about “isms”. The theoretical entities that you read about in books, “Fundamentalism” and “Evangelicalism”, are slightly different. Mrs. Whitlock’s statement was about people: “I believe you are confusing ‘Evangelicals’ with ‘Fundamentalists.’ The two are very different.” Somebody should be doing more careful reading, AND THAT PERSON IS YOU. Next time, before you call someone a bigot, try using that growth on the top of your neck for something other than a hatstand.

      • Mrs. Whitlock, I am sorry that you had to defend your prior involvement with the evangelical church. Please be assured that the number of rabid Protestant-haters among Catholics are very few (I’ve not known one). And you are correct about one thing: President Trump gave us some excellent Supreme Court Justices. When you hear about how the Woke Leftists have done to weaponize the courts against their political enemies, we ought to go down on our knees thanking God that we had a President who did otherwise.

        • Deacon Edward,
          Thank you. I, too, voted for Trump because of his promise to nominate more reasonable Justices to the Supreme Court. I was sick of the ultra-woke liberal Supreme Court legislating from the bench. Glad Trump won then, and hope he wins again. (That is, if the other side does not cheat.)

      • Sharon,
        I think Gerald simply hates Trump. Anyone who sides with Trump, no matter the reason, Gerald’s hate-paint brush will likely smear. I am a devout Catholic, and one of my very best friends in life is Evangelical. She is more gold than many ‘cathooligan’ ‘friends.’

    • Your description of Trump is more in line with the Kennedy’s and Biden’s. From what I can see both Kennedy’s and Biden’s are big time CINO’s. JFK raped and intern when he got in office, the press covered up for him, and wrote admiring reports to suit their political ends. The whole Camelot thing was a big time cover up of who they really are and it was a very successful ruse. If anyone wants to know the real story of JFK read Kennedy Babylon. Biden now is all in on promoting abortion, and anti family liberal legislation. At a recent pro abortion rally he made a sign of the cross to show his support, a really sickening gesture at a pro abortion event. Also BTW Biden’s FBI is hunting down Catholics who go to Lain Mass. Trump is no saint for sure, but is has way more morals than the Kennedy’s and Biden’s.

    • I will vote for just about anyone who is willing to oppose the stridently anti-Catholic, anti-God, anti- human cabal that is currently in place. How many babies must be murdered, confused children mutilated, children and women sex-trafficked, pro-lifers arrested at gunpoint, churches ands statues desecrated etc., before one recognizes that intrinsic evil must always be opposed, even if the alternative is an uncouth narcissist?

    • Gerald. With few exceptions, the “conservative” Catholic Church and 80 percent of Evangelicals are blinded by Trump’s ideological and immoral darkness. Anomaly. He has lost friends, but gained voters. Bishop Barron presents a hopeful and sane future. My Trump cup overflowith. Catholic paradox? Trump’s impulsive and immoral disparagement and disdain for Biden, (crooked, sleepy Joe), shows he is mentally deranged and in-your-face unqualified. Bishop Strickland supports Trump. It appears that Bishop Barron will not. Dangerous politics: The MAGA strangled US House cannot legislate. They genuflect before the Trump altar. Just this week an entourage of congressmen travelled to the Trump “Hush mony” trial in New York to express support. Among that crowd was Speaker Mike Johnson and election denier. The second in line to the presidency. I watched in amazement his duplicitous devotion and open support of his “friend” and trashing our leagal system calling it a “sham”. He went to NY ignoring vital legislation.

      Wathc this space

    • Gerald, Where do you get your statistics? By them I guess the only Evangelicals I know are in the 20%. Most Evangelicals I know personally have a deep love of Christ and His Gospel. We are all Christians and called by Jesus to love one another. I cannot afford to donate money to too many causes or organizations that support my values and I consider myself ( or at least I’ve been told 😉 that I am a conservative Catholic. One of the organizations I support is Family Research Center established and run by Tony Perkins, an Evangelical Protestant Minister who advocates for Christian values at he highest levels of government, especially our Federal Government. He is good friends with our Archbishop Salvatore Cordeleone who leads a tough battle for our Catholic Christian values in our ever increasing secular society. In today’s world, more than ever we need, to recognize and answer to that of God in each other and coalesce around shared values ( especially Gospel values) and keep up a strong front to defeat our common enemy who goes by many names but best know as Satan. As for Trump, I have no knowledge of him being an atheist. He is a sinner with many faults as am I and others. Perhaps you have none. I will vote for him in November. Given the choices there is none.

      • Trump met his second wife, Marla Maples, at the Marble Collegiate Church in NYC. Or so we were told by the tabloids at the time 🙂

    • Gerald, what is commentary in a Christian publication that denies the possibilites of a soul having turned and continuing to turn from prior reprobate ways, especially when many of the “factual” characterizations are embellished with calculated slander?

  3. There are only two philosophies, everything else is derivative. Either God is a fool or we are. Were it the first, truth would always be in flux. Since it actually is the latter, it is for this very reason that we fail to see that God did not abandon us to a capricious understanding of how we ought to order our lives together. The principles of a moral order are innate and accessible to the understanding of every honest mind. But dishonest minds see evil in the world as a management problem that only an anointed elite segment of humanity can and should assume the power to dominate all aspects of the social order.
    We now have a corrupt vision of the Church acting out and fulfilling all the elitist leanings of the entire post VII era, a vision proving to be little different than secular visions. And both the pseudo-religious and overtly secular are creating a political front in an agreed interpretation of threats to what they see as their natural right to lead the world as the most fundamental source of evil. Today, the superficially religious voices of liberal Catholic publications generate as much venom towards healthy anti-elitism as historic communist revolutionaries.

  4. Word on Fire should sue Massimo and Commonweal anyway since the damage to Bishop Barron’s reputation was already done. Neither Massimo nor Commonweal retracted and apologized for harming Barron’s name and that is why the lawsuit should proceed. Barron and WOF should ask for punitive damages and then donate the award to the Trump campaign. (The question I’d ask is whether Massimo has filed as an agent of a foreign country – to wit, the Vatican.)

  5. “For the record, I do not like Donald Trump and would never vote for him.”

    I find it quite odd that people who occasionally write somewhat nice things about Trump always have to qualify it by statements like this one. Very odd.

  6. Larry,

    You lost me when you said “I’ll never vote for Trump.” Wow. For such an erudite man, you truly are lost to this man, and I by no means am even remotely a MAGA person. In my humble opinion, you’re a classic case of one who can’t see the forest for the trees, and yet, your trying to take to task a man such as Faggioli, who is simply a man who is a child of darkness. Not only will I pray for Faggioli, that he may see the light, but I will also sincerely pray for you, as well, for you are a man who I humbly believe is lost in erudite intellectualism.

    • I would qualify the chap’s erudite intellectualism as passionately rhetorical and carelessly sophistical.

      No one of any worth (except perhaps Bishop Barron who may have been publicly calumniated) cares what Beanman ‘brother’ says. We already know that some ‘cathooligan’ chaps prefer their president be a demented incompetent baby-killer truly pharisaical, white-washed skeletally hypocritical catholic. Soeme chaps prefer their president to cower beside a man of bold conviction unfairly persecuted/prosecuted by baby-killer’s backers, said baby-killer being busy in bed with foreign adversaries, using a drug-addled relative as his pimp.

      No Christian wisdom, justice, or concern for the common good attends some silly citizen chaps.

    • Nice passive-aggressive move at the end. “I will pray for you, thus proving that I am much more godly than you are.”

      Don’t bother. God does not hear that kind of prayer. “O God, I give thee thanks that I am not as the rest of men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, as also is this publican. I fast twice in a week: I give tithes of all that I possess.”

  7. Calling Faggioli an intellectual is the best thing I’ve heard today. Of course, most intellectuals fall into that camp, which is a pun.

  8. @commonwealmag Is nothing but progressive unorthodox leftist waste paper that is not suitable for fish wrap… Barron and Word on Fire are far from “far right” and to suggest they are shows how far Catholicism has fallen in America…I’m sorry but many American Catholics are sick to death of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and their spineless cowardly response to the most grotesque supporter of abortion that has ever held the presidency…Not ONE NOT ONE Bishop has stood up to Biden!!! I don’t think Trump even knows who Bishop Barron is? Orthodox Catholics are simply fed up with the effete feckless gutless hierarchy in America. USCCB stands for NOTHING!!!

    • My blessed brother, James,

      You get the gold star for the day! And I hope our dear brother in Jesus Larry Chapp takes to heart what you eloquently and succinctly say.

    • Not true in the least. Just one example, here at CWR, back in February 2021:

      CWR: Mr. Biden professes to be a devout Catholic, yet is 100% pro-choice on abortion. How do you think America’s bishops ought to respond to this situation?

      Archbishop Naumann: I can tell you how this bishop is responding. The president should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic, and acknowledge that his view on abortion is contrary to Catholic moral teaching. It would be a more honest approach from him to say he disagreed with his Church on this important issue and that he was acting contrary to Church teaching.

      When he says he is a devout Catholic, we bishops have the responsibility to correct him. Although people have given this president power and authority, he cannot define what it is to be a Catholic and what Catholic moral teaching is.

      What he is doing now is usurping the role of the bishops and confusing people. He’s declaring that he’s Catholic, and is going to force people to support abortion through their tax dollars. The bishops need to correct him, as the president is acting contrary to the Catholic faith.

      • You are technically correct in finding more than no bishops have spoken about Biden’s hypocrisy. Yet what bishops have directly spoken to him about his stance in opposition to Catholic teaching? Has Biden’s Delaware diocesan bishop?, has Biden’s DC Bishop Gregory?, has the Bishop of Rome so spoken? Francis did not deny or refute Biden’s repeating what the pope had purportedly said: You are a good Catholic and you should continue to receive Communion.

        Have all the US bishops or a majority of them stood together in UNITY with, in Union WITH Christ in His teaching in the Church?

        Then bishops have the laughably contradictory and hypocritical impertinence to signal each other and their flock re their fervent desire to discuss unity. The bishops TALK OF TALKING ABOUT unity, and the bishops TALK of church teaching. But so very few join WITH CHRIST to walk the peripheries in search of lost souls like Biden. Apparently they enjoy the sight of the millstone around Biden’s neck. Perhaps this distracts from noticing their own.

  9. It is important to note that although neither Donald Trump or Joe Biden desire to respect and defend the Sanctity of all human life from the moment of conception, and the Sanctity of the marital act within The Sacrament of Holy Matrimony , as every Faithful Catholic does, Joe Biden is using his bully pulpit to attempt to force Faithful Catholics to deny the Sanctity of human life from the moment of conception, and deny the Sanctity of the marital act within the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, while denying The Sacramental Essence Of The Catholic Church, simultaneously, or be penalized for refusing to support the destruction of a beloved son or daughter residing in their mother’s womb, or support the erroneous claim that there exists an equality of sexual acts and sexual relationships, despite the fact that we can know through both Faith and reason both deny the inherent Dignity of the human person from the moment of conception until natural death.

    So far, Donald Trump has made an effort to respect our Religious Liberty, which is a step in the right direction, while Joe Biden wants to persecute Faithful Catholics.

    A Faithful Catholic conserves God’s Truth and applies it liberally.

    Conserving The Word Of God , The Deposit Of Faith that Christ Entrusted to His Church, though Sacred Tradition, Sacred Scripture, and The Teaching Of The Magisterium, grounded in Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, is what all The Faithful are Called to do. Those baptized Catholic who deny The Deposit Of Faith, ipso facto separate themselves from The One Body Of Christ. (See Catholic Canon 750)

    Unfortunately, there are many publications that claim to be, in essence, Catholic, while denying The Deposit Of Faith, which, through their misrepresenting of The Word of God, only serve to lead others astray.

    The fact that Bishop Strickland or Bishop Barron prefers Donald Trump to Joe Biden is not evidence of a “Trump axis”, nor is the fact that both Bishops recognize the atheist materialistic over population alarmist globalists, who Joe Biden supports, are extremely dangerous.

    Woe to us!

    Man is not an end in himself, nor is man a means to an end, man was created for communion with God, Who Willed us worthy of Redemption.

    In closing, I am extremely grateful for all Faithful Bishops and especially Bishop Strickland , who recognizes the essence of The Charitable Anathema, instituted by Christ for the sake of His One, Holy, Catholic, And Apostolic Church, outside of which, there is no Salvation, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque), and will not compromise in this regard.

    “No one can Come To My Father, except Through Me.”- Jesus The Christ

  10. Dear Dr. Chapp,

    Great article! Great rebuttal! Thanks for exposing this nonsense for what it is.

    Sincerely In Christ Jesus,
    Larry Clarence Lewis
    London, Ontario, Canada.

  11. Speaking of bullies and setting the record straight, Bishop Strickland is the only Texas Bishop we worked with willing to take on Republicans – RINOs who thwarted all of our pro-life efforts behind closed doors for decades, killing bills like the unborn, before they ever saw the light of day.

    This hoity-toity tiff reminds me of President’s Lincoln quip when he was told that General Grant was a drunk: “I wish some of you would tell me the brand of whiskey that Grant drinks. I would like to send a barrel of it to my other generals.”

  12. Faggioli is a professor with a pulpit. His sermon is the messianic goodness of Pope Francis’ exit from stale Apostolic tradition, an emancipation, moving ever forward toward ethereal heights. A form of improved edition, without prejudice to the former.
    Persons like Bishop Barron are stuck betwixt posing a sort of holding action to forwardness. An unfortunate victim of the necessary purge great movements require. So we’re left with two scoundrels, or devils if you wish, to vote for or not to vote for. To be or not to be, in essence for what’s at stake. Whether one may endure the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune, and cast a vote in favor the least devilish whether by personal mores, or political aims. Or to die—to sleep, No more.

  13. One reason we see this sort of rubbish, is that media and academia, secular and Christian, have largely covered for anyone promoting their drumbeat narratives, so people like Faggioli are used to getting a pass for anything they write or say, if not a pat on the back. When such people are publicly challenged, they are dumbfounded. We cannot expect them to employ reason and evidence because they have not been educated (trained may be a better word) in such outmoded forms of debate as these. In my view, the best response to agenda-driven “experts” is good old fashioned satire, plastered on heavy.

  14. After reading your article, and briefly reading Faggioli’s article in Commonweal, I have to say that I feel sorry for Faggioli’s Theology students, and for their parents who may be paying the tuition.

    I have to say that your apparent indication of the moral equivalence of both Biden and Trump by your phrases of both as “deeply problematical men” and “profoundly flawed nature of both” as extremely unfortunate. Recognizing that we have no perfect men as candidates still leaves us now with a presidential record of both candidates. If one cannot see a wide difference between the two, I don’t know what to say. To say that you will not vote for either of the two will leave the better of the two with one less vote, so that any claim to be neutral would not be true.

    • It also makes any past or future claim of Larry Chapp to be on the right side of the abortion war very suspect. There are many who make the easy self-evident orthodox Catholic claim when it’s easy, when it’s in a sufficiently abstract setting. But when it comes to doing slightly hard things, like being a fool for Christ, by risking being laughed at during cocktail parties among liberal friends, the babies always get thrown under the bus.

      • I agree. More truth is revealed and the disguise wears more thin with each article penned. Many a ‘respectable’ ‘theologian’ needs more than our fair share of prayer.

          • Not sure of your question Mr. Olsen. Our choice in November is going to be Trump, Biden, or maybe Kennedy. Biden is militantly pro-death – killing the unborn. So is Kennedy. I don’t see how a Real Catholic could vote for either one.

            One of the other commenters I believe made the case that washing one’s hands of the issue and not voting is hardly the thing to do.

          • I have not been clear.
            A better word choice for “disguise” is likely in the idea of “persona.”

            I try to give a benefit of doubt, assuming good faith in a writer. With certain “respectable theologians,” I’ve found it against my prudential faith and reason to give more benefit of doubt.

            Voting for or against Trump has nothing to do with my loss of respect. Morally equating Biden with Trump does, however, not compute for me.

            Each article brings forth additional cause for prayer.

      • I don’t agree. I think there are principled reasons not to vote for either candidate in this presidential election. I also think that prudential judgment might warrant a vote for Trump. Many assume Trump will continue to support what he supported in his first term. That is a risky assumption given his fickleness with loyal supporters, like Mike Pence and Nikki Haley. As for Mr Biden, I cannot think of a single foundational principle he has held on to, other than advancing his own interests. What a miserable choice. I did my best to talk up Nikki Haley, to little positive response.

    • Yes, this false equivalency is problematic, especially in light of constant public claims that Joe Biden is a “devout Catholic.” Donald Trump has never claimed to be any kind of Catholic at all, yet his term as President was not marked by overt opposition to and even persecution of Catholics. Or babies for that matter.

  15. I would qualify the chap’s erudite intellectualism as passionately rhetorical and carelessly sophistical.

    No one of any worth (except perhaps Bishop Barron who may have been publicly calumniated) cares what Beanman ‘brother’ says. We already know that some ‘cathooligan’ chaps prefer their president be a demented incompetent baby-killer truly pharisaical, white-washed skeletally hypocritical catholic. Soeme chaps prefer their president to cower beside a man of bold conviction unfairly persecuted/prosecuted by baby-killer’s backers, said baby-killer being busy in bed with foreign adversaries, using a drug-addled relative as his pimp.

    No Christian wisdom, justice, or concern for the common good attends some silly citizen chaps.

  16. It baffles me when the author of this piece and some of the commenters seem to love declaratively sharing many and varied reasons/excuses that they cannot and will not vote for Donald Trump (but, OF COURSE, they won’t vote for Biden either)! They include such “facts” like Trump is a liar, cheater, womanizer, draft dodger, an atheist, loves money, etc.
    At the same time they’ll meticulously follow the Epistles of a murderer and don’t use that as an excuse to remain on the sidelines regarding him.
    Even more to the point, they are in reality exercising the “PONTIUS PILATE OPTION” – they stand in witness and judgement of a non-perfect choice in their estimation, so they loudly and proudly declare that they have washed their hands in the bowl of water.
    They seem oblivious to 2 absolute facts: (1) DJT has no more ignominious a “past” than St. Paul, and (2) there’s a reason no one ever names their children “Pontius”, so loudly and proudly exercising the “PONTIUS PILATE OPTION” is never something admirable or to be recommended.
    (and note specifically that they presented their choice only in the negative – as who they would NOT vote for – and not offering any other candidate that has even the remotest remote chance of winning. Hence, their NON vote for DJT is simply in reality helping Biden win).

  17. Remember that Faggioli’s claim to fame was his 2020 book that somehow we should consider Joe Biden a “good Catholic” worth emulating, maybe even a “Francis Catholic.” Enough said.

  18. I will vote for just about anyone who is willing to oppose the stridently anti-Catholic, anti-God, anti- human cabal that is currently in place. How many babies must be murdered, confused children mutilated, children and women sex-trafficked, pro-lifers arrested at gunpoint, churches ands statues desecrated etc., before one recognizes that intrinsic evil must always be opposed, even if the alternative is an uncouth narcissist

  19. “Word on Fire rightly understands that narratives matter and we cannot keep moving the goal posts of what counts as “right-wing extremism” as to be now so expansive as to include all conservative Catholics, simply because the Catholic Left has decided to embrace insane gender ideology and forms of Critical Theory that deconstruct everything up to and including the apostolic foundations of the Church.

    A mere ten years ago, Word on Fire as a voice for Vatican II conservative Catholic orthodoxy in a fairly mainstream register would have alarmed only the most extreme types. But the narrative has now shifted to such an extent that some interviews with someone like Jordan Peterson constitutes an endorsement of far Right, Trumpist fascism.”

    Exactly. This entire idea is nuts.

  20. Feser took apart Massimo Faggioli’s absurd reasoning on Capital Punishment rather handily.

    Once again, Massimo Faggioli cannot make the argument.

  21. Well, you had me until you said “I do not like Donald Trump and would never vote for him”. That is a complete cop-out. That sort of inability to see the forest for the trees is why the country swings wildly back and forth politically, damaging us abroad and making a stable internal policy almost impossible. Pick a side and stick with it.

    I never get a sensible answer from anyone who hates Trump about WHY they hate him. They either bring up outright lies promoted by the democrats, or they have no actual answer. Can he be abrasive? Indeed, but no more so than any of the New Yorkers I have spent my entire life surrounded by. As for J6, which the left insists was an “insurrection”…my cat could run a better insurrection. An insurrection with no guns, military support, foreign support?? What Trump did in questioning the results of the election, and the 2 hour “insurrection” which resulted, was far milder than what happened when Al Gore hung us up with no visible elected President for 3 months.Further, this is not Switzerland. We have powerful enemies and what we do NOT need is a weak, pathetic person heading the nation who is afraid to either protect us or stand up to those who would threaten us. Nor do we need a leader whose integrity has been bought and sold by a foreign nation like China. Under Biden we have seen the weakening of our military ( and our whole society) by Woke concerns. We have seen children turned into Trans medical experiments, and the sexual indoctrination of small children in our public schools. We see rising prices for food impoverishing our families, we see our young people with no hope of ever buying a home. We see our citizens MURDERED by fentanyl ( 100,000 annually) while a feckless liberal does NOTHING about it. We see our border torn open by govt edict, while millions of unvetted foreigners pour in and are now at the point of DEMANDING services from towns and cities being bankrupted by the cost. This, while our own poor and homeless go unhelped and our own veterans are asked to vacate housing so ever more illegals can get that housing. Beyond drugs, many illegals are involved in sex trafficking, drugs or gangs. Because of crime, many Americans will no longer take the risk of going into a city center. Actor Steve Buscemi was attacked unprovoked this week in NYC for simply walking down the street. Liberal, Soros-bought democrat DA’s will not prosecute wrong doers. And now we see our own college students so lacking in moral compass that they openly make demands supporting a blatant terrorist organization which FILMED itself killing children and raping women. Propagandization complete. If you want more of this continue to say you hate Donald Trump . Continue to support the side that has destroyed our formerly honorable institutions like the FBI, our Justice System and the DHS,even the media, and allowed them to devolve into arms of the democrat party.And then you will continue to support the lawfare which has not only broken one of our only impartial institutions, the justice system, but in fact may make you it’s next victim.

    There ARE no bystanders when your country is in danger.It is my view that those who do nothing when their country is in danger have no idea at all about what it means to be an AMERICAN.

    In fact, the ONLY consideration you need when voting for President is his policies and personal strength of will. THAT Donald Trump has in abundance. We are NOT electing a saint. We are electing a President. That person must be willing to use military power, send soldiers to their deaths, and provide inspiration to lead the country. Donald Trump has those policies. Those who are concerned about “mean tweets” would do the rest of us a favor by staying home and not voting at all until they grow a few brain cells.

    • Powerful.
      The sad part of all you note? With a continued ‘progressive’ leader like Biden, the problems will grow exponentially. The country will rot and decay further, and the world will turn more horrid, violent, deadly. Christians will run for the hills, and woe to those with child.

      That being said, I think we give this chap fellow too much truck in worrying about or hoping to persuade him to discern what seems obvious to most of us here. He has only one vote. He seems to have chosen since he has so spoken.

      There are some chaps who think about a theoretically empty hell, and so they have not developed the far vision to discern consequences of such a revisionist (un)Christian idea. As others see time-tested and true dogma, they espy a new theology. Some are so recalcitrant they seem to have dug a muddy moat-ditch around their exceptionally clever way of thinking. No one can touch it (without getting dirty) since we fail to appreciate the LOVE of it–idyllic, poetic, pastoral, and oh so special. Some minds and wills remain closed.

      St. Benedict, pray for us.

  22. What Faggioli calls the Strickland-Trump Axis of Evil, I like to call the Sedevacantist-Crook Uniteam Pope Francis has already mothballed Strickland, I hope and pray the majority of voters will be informed and enlightened enough to follow their moral compass and prevent Trump getting into the White House again.

    • You’re wrong once again, Deacon Dom. You seem to be wrong on just about all matters of consequence.

      • Yes, you are right. With your offbeat moral-doctrinal compass or in your alternative universe Strickland is Pope, your superhero is Saint Donald who can do no wrong or to the extreme, Trump being God, he having no God but himself.

          • You did not get it. I was speaking for myself here, my own words, to describe my impression of the way you express and articulate your view of what about what I call the Sedevacantist-Crook Uniteam of Strickland and Trump.

    • You see Biden as a moral compass? Here is a man who is indifferent to the suffering and death he brought to tens of thousands who never made it to his open borders, while enriching cruel cartels; 85,000 children who went lost after entering and are no doubt in the sex trade, if they are lucky enough to be alive; flooding Iran with billions in cash to fund terrorist organizations and suppress internal dissent; proactive – with the sign of the Cross – in support of abortion to the last moment of full term pregnancy; supplanting at best a secular Easter celebration on the White House lawn into revelry for transgender madness; showering with his young daughter for years (as confirmed in her diary); using the judiciary to silence political opponents; enriching himself via his son in foreign deals while in office … there’s your moral compass, Deacon Dom. There has never been a more despicable president of this country … and he calls himself a Catholic.

    • Bishop Strickland is still a bishop Deacon Dom, & hardly mothballed. He’s been quite active from what I can see.

  23. The Holy Spirit through St. Paul instructs us that “there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.” (1 COR:19). Deciding which one is genuine between Bishop Robert Barron and this guy Faggioli, a NY Times secular progressive wannabe, is no contest.
    I don’t agree with all of Bishop Barron’s positions such as his just war arguments about WW I and WW II. But anyone who reads his daily Gospel reflections must recognize him as a genuine servant of Christ Jesus.

  24. As for Mr. Chapp taking heat for his voting choice or non-choice, he is welcome to do that, but should be unsuprised at flames when making his choice public.

    Personally, I do not believe in throwing away a vote in what still might be a close election. As usual, I will hold my nose, try not to gag on the stench, and vote for the candidate with most realistic chance of winning who closest aligns with my own beliefs. Not that either main candidate are anything but shameless hucksters with morals of rancid jello who will say ANYthing to get elected and are essentially prostitutes, but….

    • You didn’t note how the pro-life judicial appointments of Trump and his administration’s curbing of spending to support abortion in foreign aid programs had the effect of saving more lives than the actions of any individual in history? Does this really mean just saying anything to get elected to you?

  25. The article intentionally maligns personalities. It serves as a massive misdirection and damages the truer argument.

    “You shall know them by the fruits that they bear”. So focus on the Fruits… Only!

    My brother vehemently despises everything that Trump does.
    As I continue to push back on those elements of personality towards simply their fruits for the good of the nation and world we found that we agreed on nearly everything!
    We agree on Trump’s fruits over Biden’s nearly unanimously…

    But, he will never vote Trump. I think that I might convince him to consider other republicans over democrats. It is a step.

  26. A Goldwater/McIntyre “axis” thesis is truly a stretch. Both men are long-ago figures in forgotten controversies. Even in their day, neither had much traction within the US Catholic community. I can speak from firsthand experience: I was a young paleotrad fan of Cardinal McIntyre (and moreso, of Cardinal Ottaviani). And I was a “Youth for Goldwater” (but then, so too was Hillary Clinton).
    The real operative political/confessional “axis” is one that links the (Joe)McCarthy/Nixon/Trump political Right with popular Catholic sentiment. It is the rally of the uninfluential against the treason of the elites. As such it is not a “conservative” movement in the spirit or manner of the Goldwater/Reagan/Bush neocon paradigm.
    The uninfluential (deplorables?) are not Peron’s descamisados, nor are they Pope Francis’ marginalized of the peripheries. They are men and women of common sense.
    In the US, of course, the uninfluential include Catholics, Protestants and Jews. But what they share is their witness to the havoc the treason of the elites has wrought in their daily lives, their society, and the whole world.
    For Catholic uninfluentials there is also a rally against the treason of the elites who have wrought the rupture that has unfolded from the Vatican II event. Bishop Strickland speaks perhaps most eloquently for this rally of the faithful.
    So, yes, there is a kind of Trump/Strickland “axis”. It is not programmatic, but “katechonic”: it holds back the progress of the treasonous project of the elites of both the Church and the world — which is why it is hated so much by all of the organs of the elites.
    Joe Biden is an evil man. Not only is it not possible in good conscience to vote for him (or for anyone who might be substituted for him); it is impossible in good conscience not to vote to remove him and his henchmen from power. Only a vote for Trump can do that. It is a Catholic moral imperative to work and vote (and pray) for Trump’s election.
    Jorge Mario Bergoglio is Pope. We must pray that God will grant him sincere repentance and a happy death. And we must voice our prayer and hope that his successor will crush the “Vatican II project” of treasonous lay and clerical elites infesting the Church.

    • About the “Vatican II project,” perhaps Benedict’s distinction is in order? As between the “real” council coming from the barque of Peter, versus the “virtual” council fantasized by the termites….

      A curious reading of Rev. Ralph M. Wiltgen’s “The Rhine Flows into the Tiber” (1967) affords a fine-grained look at those three years (1962-65) and the actual and voted Documents. Wiltgen, a professional historian and fly on the wall, published a daily newsletter of the Council is six languages, reporting the proceedings of the Council (his Council News Service which went to 3,000 subscribers in 108 countries). Yes, sausage in the making! But, there’s also the concise “Final Report” of the 1985 Extraordinary Synod of Bishops (a genuine synod!), convened by Pope John Paul II after the first twenty years—precisely to reclaim and protect the Council from “divergent” interpretations.

      But, today, after going underground for 35 years (during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict), the few still-breathing termites, are now joined by two generations of amnesiacs and crypto-synod centipedes very much in step with each other—and who have never even seen the light of day about “real” Council…

      Very much about our needed engagement in world history (“aggiornamento”) AND rooted in the historical Incarnation and the Church Fathers (“ressourcement”)—and, so, not of the world.

  27. Dr. Chapp, I appreciate and respect your work. You are thoughtful, faithful and well informed. But I don’t know you from Adam. Please help me understand your dislike of Trump – as a presidential candidate. We are not electing a charm school principal — you get where I am going with this. Which policies in his first term were so objectionable that you would squander your vote on a unelectable candidate? While his personality may disagree with your or my likes, I cannot think of one policy that was not spot on. I didn’t care for his tweets – I avoided them. But I loved that he nominated conservative judges. The list of solid accomplishments is impressive. What do you not like about a great economy, no wars, a managed border, best employment numbers for blacks and latinos, bringing hostile parties together in the Middle East to sign a first ever treaty, etc.

    I actually don’t think you disagree with what he did and would do as president – but it seems to be totally unacceptable to acknowledge that publicly. If that’s true and you’re terrified of being outed, don’t say anything.

    I just don’t get it. Please set me straight. If I and millions of others are dupes, ignorant, morally confused, social misfits … please, SOMEONE, tell me how. What policies do you not want. And that you would, by not voting for Trump, hand another term to Biden … how does that make your view superior or even reasonable?

    • The many commenters who invoked lesser – of – two – evils arguments for Trump or Biden, forgot something. Catholic tradition condemns such arguments, because it rejects evil. Something to remember next time you step into the confessional.

      • Are you suggesting that Trump is evil and it’s a sin to vote for him? The church may do a lot of things but it does not pronounce who constitutes an “evil” political choice. If it did, it would have already roundly condemned Biden and Pelosi and their entire party of elected lock-step officials BY NAME for their extreme abortion position. The Pope has chosen however, to pat them on the head and send them on their way with a smile.

        Trump however, was concerned about peace in the Middle East, and an improved work environment which raised the economic boats for ALL here in the US, including those who are of color. How exactly is this bad or evil? And , if he WERE a would-be dictator and a “danger to democracy” as oft claimed by the left, he’d STILL be in power! Get it? Trump supporters support him because he does whats good for US and the country. We are NOT uninformed rednecks (I am a Trump supporter and live in a blue state in a blue city and hold a Masters Degree. Uninformed I am NOT.) Would it be nice if he were a tad less blunt? Probably, but I dont vote on personality. I vote on policy and how that will affect me and my family. Having lost family in the 9/11 attacks, I am deeply disturbed at the national security risk posed by our open borders, a clear POLICY of the democrats. It would be nice to think that our voters had the intelligence to see beyond leftist propaganda. We will see. And I am deeply disappointed by the dangerous disloyalty shown thus far by Nikki Haley, who should have thrown her support to Trump long before now. The current dangerous and unhinged regime needs to be voted out of office.

        • Lesser – of – two – evils arguments inherently accept evils. It’s not the church making these arguments. It’s the commenters here. Because the church does not accept evil, it does not put its thumb on election scales. That silence is more noticeable when we have candidates who are more repulsive and morally compromised than usual. Voters in the US get a truly hideous choice between two parties who trash Catholic principles of one kind or another. Not surprising they split the Catholic vote. Last time 51-49.

  28. A thoughtful essay. The temptation is to view Faggioli as suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome a different issue. But the larger problem is viewing this through the lens of right and left, political categories not theological, instead of truth and error and the common good. Yes both candidates are flawed (as every candidate is) but Biden claims to be a Catholic while he supports very anti-Catholic things like gender ideology and abortion, even making the Sign of the Cross at a pro-abortion confab, what I call mocking God. Trump is not a Catholic and supports immoral things like IFV and limited abortion but is better in tune, I think, with Catholic belief than Biden. The real debate should be about truth and error and which candidate will better support that calculus and serving the common good, a cardinal principle of Catholic social teaching, better. Biden the alleged Catholic has gone out of his way to be anti-Catholic and serve the power-elites, globalists, big corporations, banks, while projecting weakness to America’s enemies, endangering the country with an open southern border, while Trump the non-Catholic, while flawed, as every politician, is better, I think, for the common good and the ordinary working person: security at the border, lower taxes, energy independence, real wage growth, low inflation, projection of strength to America’s enemies like China and Iran, seeking to reign in the bloated administrative state, which is like the tail wagging the dog.

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  1. On Faggioli’s feverish “Trump-Strickland-Barron” fantasy - JP2 Catholic Radio
  2. The Trump-Strickland axis - California Catholic Daily

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