by Robert P. George & George Weigel

March 7, 2016 11:59 AM

And to all men and women of good will.

In recent decades, the Republican party has been a vehicle — imperfect, like all human institutions, but serviceable — for promoting causes at the center of Catholic social concern in the United States:

(1) providing legal protection for unborn children, the physically disabled and cognitively handicapped, the frail elderly, and other victims of what Saint John Paul II branded “the culture of death”;

(2) defending religious freedom in the face of unprecedented assaults by officials at every level of government who have made themselves the enemies of conscience;

(3) rebuilding our marriage culture, based on a sound understanding of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife; and

(4) re-establishing constitutional and limited government, according to the core Catholic social-ethical principle of subsidiarity. There have been frustrations along the way, to be sure; no political party perfectly embodies Catholic social doctrine. But there have also been successes, and at the beginning of the current presidential electoral cycle, it seemed possible that further progress in defending and advancing these noble causes was possible through the instrument of the Republican party.

That possibility is now in grave danger. And so are those causes. Donald Trump is manifestly unfit to be president of the United States. His campaign has already driven our politics down to new levels of vulgarity. His appeals to racial and ethnic fears and prejudice are offensive to any genuinely Catholic sensibility. He promised to order U.S. military personnel to torture terrorist suspects and to kill terrorists’ families — actions condemned by the Church and policies that would bring shame upon our country.

And there is nothing in his campaign or his previous record that gives us grounds for confidence that he genuinely shares our commitments to the right to life, to religious freedom and the rights of conscience, to rebuilding the marriage culture, or to subsidiarity and the principle of limited constitutional government.

We understand that many good people, including Catholics, have been attracted to the Trump campaign because the candidate speaks to issues of legitimate and genuine concern: wage stagnation, grossly incompetent governance, profligate governmental spending, the breakdown of immigration law, inept foreign policy, stifling “political correctness” — for starters.

There are indeed many reasons to be concerned about the future of our country, and to be angry at political leaders and other elites. We urge our fellow Catholics and all our fellow citizens to consider, however, that there are candidates for the Republican nomination who are far more likely than Mr. Trump to address these concerns, and who do not exhibit his vulgarity, oafishness, shocking ignorance, and — we do not hesitate to use the word — demagoguery.

Mr. Trump’s record and his campaign show us no promise of greatness; they promise only the further degradation of our politics and our culture. We urge our fellow Catholics and all our fellow citizens to reject his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination by supporting a genuinely reformist candidate.

Robert P. George McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence Princeton University

George Weigel Distinguished Senior Fellow and William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies Ethics and Public Policy Center and Ryan T. Anderson William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow The Heritage Foundation

Stephen M. Barr University of Delaware

Francis J. Beckwith Professor of Philosophy and Church–State Studies Baylor University

Mary Ellen Bork Ethics and Public Policy Center Board

Gerard V. Bradley Professor of Law University of Notre Dame

Don J. Briel John Henry Newman Chair of Liberal Arts University of Mary Brian Burch President,

James C. Capretta Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center Joseph Cella Founder, National Catholic Prayer Breakfast

Grazie Pozo Christie, M.D. The Catholic Association

Ann Corkery Founder, Catholic Voices USA

Neil Corkery Sudan Relief Fund

David Paul Deavel Interim Editor, Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture

Mary Eberstadt Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Eduardo Echeverria Professor of Philosophy and Systematic Theology Sacred Heart Major Seminary

Thomas F. Farr Director, Religious Freedom Project Georgetown University

Matthew J. Franck Director, William E. and Carol G. Simon Center on Religion and the Constitution, Witherspoon Institute

Anna Halpine Founder, World Youth Alliance

Mary Rice Hasson Director, Catholic Women’s Forum, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Stephen J. Heaney Associate Professor of Philosophy University of St. Thomas

John P. Hittinger Pope John Paul II Forum, Center for Thomistic Studies University of St. Thomas

Elizabeth M. Kelly Managing Editor, Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture

Rachel Lu Senior Contributor, The Federalist

Bruce D. Marshall Lehman Professor of Christian Doctrine Perkins School of Theology Southern Methodist University

Robert T. Miller Professor of Law and F. Arnold Daum Fellow in Corporate Law University of Iowa College of Law

Kate O’Beirne Former Washington Editor, National Review

C. C. Pecknold The Catholic University of America

Robert Royal Faith and Reason Institute

Deborah Savage Professor of Philosophy and Theology University of St. Thomas Timothy

Samuel Shah Religious Freedom Project Georgetown University

Nina Shea Director, Center for Religious Freedom Hudson Institute Hilary Towers Developmental psychologist and author

David R. Upham Associate Professor of Politics University of Dallas

Edward Whelan Ethics and Public Policy Center

Stephen P. White Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center

Titles and affiliations of each individual are provided for identification purposes only. The views expressed are those of the individual signatories and do not necessarily represent the views of any organization or entity.

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I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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  1. Just what or to whom are they referring when they declare that we should support a true reformist? Hillary wants to reform our country and our Constitution as does Berney Sanders. It seems we, the People, don’t need reforming. WE have a perfectly good Constitution if only a President and Congress and Judicial office holders honor it; and educators teach it while priests provide the moral supports needed to evaluate the whole picture.

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