One of the presidential candidates “diverts from some aspects of the Church’s teaching and the other… has made statements vilifying immigrants and religious minorities,” a journalist from New York Times Magazine said to Pope Francis on his flight back to Rome from Azerbaijan earlier this month. “How would you counsel the faithful in America and what wisdom would you have them keep in mind next month when the election occurs?”
Here’s how the Holy Father answered:
“You pose me a question where you describe a difficult choice, because, according to you, you have difficulty in one and you have difficulty in the other. In electoral campaigns, I never say a word. The people are sovereign.
“I’ll just say a word: Study the proposals well, pray and choose in conscience.”
After that, the pontiff talked about the need for a healthy political culture that can break out of partisan categories.
“I’ll leave the issue and I speak of a fiction, because I don’t want to speak to this concrete issue. When it happens that in whatever country here are two, three, four candidates that no one likes, that means that the political life of the nation perhaps is too politicized but perhaps it doesn’t have that much politics.
“And, one of the jobs of the church, also in the teaching in the (university) faculties, is teaching to have political culture.
“There are nations, and I’m thinking of Latin America, which are too politicized. But, they don’t have political culture. They are from this party, or this one or this one. Effectively, (they are) without a clear thought on the foundations, the proposals.”