Consortium Journal, June 30, 2017

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Father Fred Scinto

June 29, 2017

THE CONSORTIUM JOURNAL

HELPING FRANCIS RE-FORM THE CHURCH

JUNE 30, 2017

 

INTRODUCTION

  • “Are you angry with someone?  Pray for that person.  That is what Christian love is.” (Pope Francis)  We have just entered that beautiful season that is summer.  You and I may want to heed Francis’ good counsel at this time and this summer make up with someone with whom we are angry or who is angry with us.  This is a good practice of mercy!
  • This Journal edition is the last edition of our (scholastic) year and we will begin them again in the month of September 2017.  It is a longer one than usual so that you can carry some of it forward into the summer.  Thank you for journeying with us during the past year and please pray for success for the work of the Consortium and for the Holy Spirit to make use of our Journal editions.
  • During the summer, my hope is to send you a couple of issues of the Musings in order to stay connected with you and to keep in touch.  These will be very short and on various pertinent topics.  I make no promises as to how many will be issued but it will be a small number.  At least this is my intention.
  • Do have a good summer and especially enjoy this beautiful season as a great gift of our generous God.  Do less work than you normally would do and rest up.  At times even do nothing and slow down: this has become a great need in our present technological culture that moves too fast.  Reconnect with the important people in your life.  Also get your fill of Nature and be refreshed thereby.
  • Continue to pray for the Pope and what he is trying to do to re-animate and restore the Gospel Church; please make this a regular part of your prayers.  Thank you!
  • May God grant you a happy restorative regenerative summer.  Amen!

 

TRUMPISM AND CATHOLICISM (Continued and Concluded)

  • With the United States withdrawing from the Paris accord, the question is being asked if China could become the world leader in the climate change initiative.  We now take a quick look at that.
  • “A president’s declaration that the United States was withdrawing from a climate agreement might once have caused other countries to reverse course as well.  But not anymore.  China and India – which, along with the United States, account for more than half of all global emissions – are on their own path.” (John Ibbitson, “Opinion    Pull out of the accord, Trump.  The world has moved on,” The Globe and Mail, June 2, 2017)
  • “China has long been a prime polluter, but as the U.S. vows to withdraw from the Paris accord, a gap emerges that Beijing [China] is poised to fill … ‘China’s emissions of all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide are the largest in the world,’ lamented Wang Jinnan, chief engineer of the Chinese Academy for Environmental Planning.  For a decade now, China has been the global leader in carbon emissions, far eclipsing the United States as it erected forests of smokestacks to deliver exhaust heavenward on a march of economic growth powered in large measure by coal.” (Nathan Vanderklippe, “Can China be a world leader on climate change?,” The Globe and Mail, June 2, 2017)
  • “And yet the image Chinese Premier Li Keqiang sought to strike was of a country prepared to offer a very different kind of leadership.  China ‘will stand by its responsibilities on climate change,’ standing alongside the European Union as a bulwark of responsibility in a world buffeted by a White House vacillating on the most pressing issues, Mr. Li said during a visit to Berlin.” (Vanderklippe)
  • “The Foreign Ministry [of China] ‘reassured the world’ Beijing would remain steadfast on climate … China’s outsized carbon footprint, like its protectionist policies, places it in a positon to make change with global ramifications – and on climate, signs have been gathering that Mr. Li’s assurances were more than empty words.  Take coal, whose consumption has fallen in China for three consecutive years; the country appears on course to far exceed its 2030 carbon-emissions-reduction pledge.  Or take greenhouse gas emissions, where China appears on course to far exceed its 2030 pledge.” (Vanderklippe)
  • “China has tied future industrial policy to building up its lead in manufacturing solar-and wind-power technology, and creating a leadership position in the manufacture of electric cars. It has ordered coal-fired power plants to halt construction.” (Vanderklippe)
  • “‘At the end of the day, what matters is what happens in China’s domestic energy sector,’ said Joanna Lewis, an expert on Chinese environment and energy policies at Georgetown University, where she leads the Georgetown U.S.-China Climate Research Dialogue.  And, she said, ‘the signs there are really quite positive.’ China will soon ‘be launching what will be the world’s largest cap-and-trade system for carbon, and they have very aggressive domestic clean-energy targets.’” (ibid.)
  • “Still, she described China as a ‘reluctant leader’ in forums such as the United Nations climate negotiations, positioning itself among developing countries who call for others to do the heaviest lifting.  ‘The positon has always been, we are willing to take action, but it is up to the industrialized countries to lead and to provide financial and technology support.’” (ibid.)
  • And what about my own country of Canada?  What is the situation here?  In some conversations outside the United States, Canada has been selected as another country who has to do more in leadership regarding the Paris accord now that the United States has left. We consider this briefly now.
  • Canada and the U.S. have been working together at the province-state level for years to combat global warming and our Prime Minister (Justin Trudeau) has stated he was deeply disappointed at America’s withdrawal from the Paris accord but Canada would be “unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth.”
  • In the last full week of May 2017, Environment Minister Catherine McKenna in Germany met with the special Chinese special envoy for climate change, Xie Zhenhua, and the European Union environment commissioner, Karmenu Vella “and discussed jointly hosting a meeting of environment ministers this fall [2017] to chart a path for implementing the Paris accord among the world’s major economies” (The Canadian Press, “McKenna says Canada remains committed to Paris accord,” Waterloo Region Record, June 1, 2017).  McKenna went on to say that Canada is going to show leadership with China and the European Union.  Parenthetically, Canada’s emissions add up to about 1.6% of global greenhouse gases.
  • Canada is very serious about maintaining its commitment to the Paris accord and to fighting global warming.  “The Prime Minister quickly affirmed his support for the Paris accord on June 1, 2017, and conveyed that message in a phone conversation with Mr. Trump, his office said.  ‘We are deeply disappointed that the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris agreement,’ Mr. Justin Trudeau said in a statement.  ‘Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth.  Canadians know we need to take decisive and collective action to tackle the many harsh realities of our change in climate.’” (“From Page 1   Withdrawal: ‘Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change,’ Trudeau says,” The Globe and Mail June 2, 2017 – the second part of the article on page A8 – A9)
  • “Ms. McKenna said the U.S. reversal on climate policy will not deter Ottawa from implementing the federal measures in the Pan-Canadian strategy that Mr. Trudeau signed in December [2016] with 11 of 13 provincial and territorial premiers.  ‘It is something we owe to our kids and grandkids,’ she said.  She added that the transition to a lower-carbon global economy presents ‘a huge economic opportunity’ for Canadian businesses and workers, even as governments protect the overall competitiveness of the economy.” (ibid.)
  • Conservative Party environment critic Ed Fast noted that, with the United States backpedaling from the more ambitious policies of Mr. Barack Obama, Canada has to respond.  “The competitiveness challenge we face will only be exacerbated,” he stated.
  • Canada’s strong stand on the Paris accord can easily be seen in the following incident.
  • “Canada’s environment minister says a recent report claiming Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel about leaving the Paris climate agreement out of a planned G20 [Group of Twenty] statement was an ‘incorrect translation.’  ‘We are absolutely committed to climate action and the Paris Agreement,’ Catherine McKenna told reporters following the meeting of the G7 [Group of Seven] environment ministers in Bologna, Italy, on June 11-12, 2017.  On June 9, 2017, German news magazine Der Spiegel published a story suggesting Trudeau had ‘switched to appeasement’ of the Trump administration during a phone conversation with Merkel on June 13, 2017.” (Maura Forrest, “McKenna disputes ‘appeasing’ the U.S.,” National Post, June 13, 2017)
  • The Prime Minister’s office stated the Der Spiegel article is inaccurate.  “Trudeau issued a statement after U.S. President Donald Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the international climate agreement earlier this month, saying he was ‘deeply disappointed’ in the decision and that Canada’s commitment to fight climate change is ‘unwavering.’  But Der Spiegel reported that Trudeau suggested to Merkel that the planned G20 communiqué could be limited to energy issues, without mentioning the Paris Agreement.  The 2017 G20 summit will take place in Hamburg, Germany in early July [2017].  ‘Trudeau had apparently changed his approach to Trump and seemed concerned about further provoking his powerful neighbor to the south,’ the story claims.” (ibid.)
  • “An official with the prime minister’ office said Trudeau made no such suggestion during the conversation, which focused on the two countries’ ‘shared commitment to combat climate change.’  In Italy over the weekend [June 9-11, 2017], McKenna met with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, and said she ‘made it clear the Paris Agreement is not open for renegotiation.’ A communiqué released June 12, 2017, included a statement that the environment ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom and European commissioners responsible for climate ‘reaffirm strong commitment to the swift and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement.’ …
  • “After Trump announced the United States’ withdrawal from the climate agreement, Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Paulo Gentiloni signed a joint letter condemning the decision.  Canada elected not to sign that letter, with Trudeau and McKenna releasing their own statements instead.” (ibid.)  McKenna also visited the Vatican to stress the need to act on climate change.
  • In the upcoming year as president of the G7, Trudeau is determined to make global action on climate change and sustainable economic development main thrusts of Canadian policy.  He has been reaching out to the rest of G7 to push ahead with this regardless of the U.S. “Trudeau and Environment Minister Catherine McKenna have both been clear the Paris Agreement will survive with or without the Americans, and that Canada will ‘step up’ to take advantage of what they call a huge economic opportunity.  Even before Trump’s official announcement on the Parties Agreement, Canada was taking steps to lead on climate change, along with China and the European Union.” (The Canadian Press, “As Trump looks inward, Trudeau reaches out to allies.” Waterloo Region Record, June 8, 2017) The three will gather in September 2017 in Canada for a meeting on how to advance the Paris Accord/Agreement and clean economic growth.  Canada will also host an intergovernmental panel on climate change that same month in Montreal.
  • “Ian Bruce, director of science and policy for the David Suzuki Foundation, said having the G7 prioritize the Paris Accord and clean energy development even without the world’s usual superpower on board, is a significant message.  “The world is saying it is going to move forward without Trump,’ said Bruce.  For Canada’s year at the G7 helm, it ‘opens up an incredible opportunity for Canada to seize a leadership position on clean energy growth.’  Canadians for their part seem supportive of Canada’s positon: a poll just released suggests a majority of respondents were opposed to Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord and believe Canada should remain committed to the deal.” (ibid.)
  • “University of Ottawa foreign policy professor Roland Paris [said] … ‘No one can be under any illusions now.  He is a rogue president.  He will not “come around.”’  Other western leaders now have to figure out together ‘how to salvage the accord and how to strengthen co-operation among liberal democracies,’ Paris said.  The United States, he said, ‘is treating them as competitors – or worse, adversaries – rather than as America’s oldest friends.’” (ibid.)
  • Because of all of the above and what it implies, Canada’s relationship with the United States will certainly continue but its character is changing.  Especially is this so because of America’s turning inward in ways that are new and “putting off” its old political traditional friends and allies.  This is seen very well in a major foreign policy speech made in Canada’s House of Commons lately.
  • “Canada’s new foreign policy will involve spending billions of dollars on ‘hard power’ military capability because the country cannot rely on an American ally that has turned inward, says Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland … Freeland said Canada does not need an inward-looking ‘Canada first’ foreign policy, but given that the U.S. is now questioning the worth of its global leadership, it is more important than ever for Canada to plot its own course in the world…
  • “Freeland said that notwithstanding the ‘incredibly good relationship with the U.S., Canada cannot simply depend on American military protection.  To rely solely on the U.S. security umbrella would make us a client state,’ she said.  ‘Such a dependence would not be in Canada’s interest.’  The speech affirmed Canada’s support for multilateralism and rules-based international systems, human rights, gender equality, fighting climate change and spreading economic benefits more widely …
  • “The U.S. has been an indispensable nation in leading the world since [the twentieth century], she said, but this is changing and Canada has to adapt… She reiterated the government’s disappointment in the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.  ‘International relationships that had seemed immutable for 70 years are being called into question,’ she said.  ‘And new shared human imperatives – the fight against climate change first among them – call for renewed uncommon resolve.’” (Mike Blanchfield, “Freeland says Canada requires ‘hard power’ to support global order,” Waterloo Region Record, June 7, 2017)
  • Climate change is such a huge Social Justice Question that I want to return to the evidence for it again at this point.  It boggles my mind that in today’s world a person could truly be a sceptic about climate change and its consequences for our earth.  As I was doing this Journal edition, I ran across two more studies that definitely show there is climate change happening right now in our planet’s atmosphere.  A summary is given below.

 

  • The first has to do with Antarctica and was found in the June 10, 2017 Waterloo Region Record (Chris Mooney, “Scientists find huge recent melt event on surface of Antarctica”).
  • “Scientists have documented a recent, massive melt event on the surface of highly vulnerable West Antarctica that, they fear, could be a harbinger of future events as the planet continues to warm.  In the Antarctic summer of 2016, the surface of the Ross Ice Shelf, the largest floating ice platform on Earth, developed a sheet of meltwater that lasted for as long as 15 days in some places.  The total area affected by the melt was 300,000 square miles, or larger than the State of Texas, the scientists report.  That is bad news because surface melting could work hand in hand with an already documented trend of ocean-driven melting to compromise West Antarctica, which contains over 10 feet of potential sea level rise.
  • “‘It provides us with a possible glimpse of the future,’ said David Bromwich, an Antarctic expert at Ohio State University and one of the study’s authors.  The paper appeared in Nature Communications [access this with your computer and you will be literally shocked at what you read!].  ‘You probably have read these analyses of West Antarctica, many people think it is slowly disintegrating right now, and it is mostly thought to be from the warm water eating away at the bottom of critical ice shelves,’ Bromwich continued.  ‘Well, that is today.  In the future, we could see action at the surface of these ice shelves as well from surface melting.  So that makes them potentially much more unstable.’” (emphasis added)
  • At this time now, the melt event did not have any big consequences because the ice shelf surface subsequently refroze.  “But it is worrisome, Bromwhich said, because of how it fits into a pattern predicted by a very influential study of Antarctica published last year [2016], which used climate and ice sheet models to predict the possibility that there could be major ice loss in this century capable of driving as much as 4 feet [4 feet!] of sea level rise from Antarctica alone.” (emphasis added)…
  • “IfAntarctic ice shelves fracture – something that has already been observed to occur on the Greenland ice sheet and in some parts of Antarctica where warmer temperatures already occur – then that would allow the ice lodged behind them to flow into the ocean much more rapidly.  ‘These big melting events that we were studying in this paper [the 2016 paper mentioned above] is in exactly one of the critical area that the paper modelled big retreat in the Antarctic ice sheet,’ said Bromwich.  ‘So that is the big significance here.  It shows how these big events could take place in the real world, not just the modelled world.’”
  • “‘Melting is thought to be death to ice shelves,’ Robin Bell, an Antarctic researcher at the Lamont-Doherty Institute at Columbia University, added.  ‘This is the first well documented melt event where we can see how it happened.’” (ibid.)
  • Here is the second study.  It is a different kind of study!
  • “An Arctic climate-change study has been cancelled because warming temperatures have filled the sea off northern Newfoundland with hazardous ice up to eight meters thick.  Instead of cruising north with a team of scientists, the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Amundsen has been busy freeing fishing boats and helping other ships surrounded in ice that usually does not travel so far south at this time of year.  David Barber, the expedition’s chief scientist, says the irony is that climate change itself has put the climate-change research project on ice.” (The Canadian Press, “Climate study put on pause as global warming thins Arctic ice,” The Globe and Mail, June 13, 2017)
  • “‘Normally these conditions are not so bad.  This is climate change fully in action – affecting our ability to make use of marine resources and transport things,’ Barber said.  He continued to state that warming temperatures have made the ice in the high Arctic thinner.  When buffeted by storms, the ice can move much more freely and travel south on ocean currents.  The expedition of 40 scientists was planning to travel to Hudson Bay, but the Amundsen had to be diverted to help ships caught in the Strait of Belle Isle and along the coast of Newfoundland.  ‘It was a real eye-opener for me – just how unprepared we are for climate change when it comes to ice hazards,’ Mr. Barber said.” (ibid.)
  • As I was proofreading this section of the Journal, I ran across another article that reported on the situation of the Great Lakes.  It was about a meeting at the University of Michigan to devise an early-warning system for the Great Lakes because “climate change increases the risk of meteotsunamis as scientists look at early warning system” (Rob Ferguson, “Experts study threat of Great Lakes ‘tsunamis,’” Toronto Star, June 28, 2017.  A meteotsunami is a high wave.
  • If we do not keep our thinking straight when we go through the above material/comments, we might tend to think that the United States is really out of step with the remaining world (which it is in this matter!) and then consider Americans quite ignorant when it comes to understanding what is happening to our world.  That would be false and not the case because when President Trump pulled out of the Paris Accord, many many Americans were against this.  Let us now take a quick look at this.  Thank you.
  • “It will now fall to states and cities that have been pushing ahead with their own environmental policies to become the de facto U.S. leaders on climate change.  The largest among those is California, where Governor Jerry Brown has built his legacy around aggressively leading on climate change.  In a conference call, Mr. Brown decried the ‘insane move’ to withdraw from the Paris agreement.  “Donald Trump has absolutely chosen the wrong course,’ he said.  ‘He is wrong on the facts.  California’s economy and America’s economy are boosted by following the Paris agreement.’” (Withdrawal: ‘Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change,’ Trudeau says”)
  • “Since Mr. Trump’s election in November [2016], California legislators have introduced a series of new environmental protection bills in an attempt to insulate the state from the new White House administration’s climate policy.  On June 2, 2017, Mr. Brown headed to China in a weeklong trip to meet with world leaders as part of an effort to take up the mantle as the U.S. leader on climate change.  “California, we are all in,’ he said.  ‘While our President may be AWOL in the battle against climate change, we are not.’” (ibid.)
  • “Hawaii has taken a defiant stand, becoming the first state to legally implement portions of the landmark Paris climate agreement that President Trump chose to abandon.  ‘Climate change is real, regardless of what others may say,’ Hawaii Governor David Ige said at a bill signing ceremony June 6, 2017 in Honolulu.  ‘Hawaii is seeing the impacts first hand.  Tides are getting higher, biodiversity is shrinking, coral is bleaching, coastlines are eroding, weather is becoming more extreme.  We must acknowledge these realities at home.  Ige said the state had a ‘kuleana,’ or responsibility to the Earth.  ‘We cannot afford to mess this up.  We are setting a course to change the trajectory of Hawaii and islanders for generations to come.  With Ige’s signature, two bills became law.” (Katie Mettler, “Hawaii passes laws backing Paris accord,” Waterloo Region Record, June 8, 2017)
  • One bill had to do with expanded strategies and mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the other had to do with establishing the Carbon Farming Task Force to support the development of sustainable agricultural practices.  Both of the bills were introduced in January 2017 after Trump moved into the White House and were not meant to be signed into law for several weeks but Hawaii moved up the bill signing and ceremony because “this was of such national importance” (ibid.)
  • “Tourists flock to the collection of islands [that is Hawaii] to experience its beaches and explore its coral reefs, both of which are threatened by warming and rising waters.  The mounting evidence and creeping threat has thrust Hawaii into what Daven Lerner [director of the Sea Grant College Program at the University of Hawaii] called a commitment to understanding and addressing climate change.” (ibid.)
  • “Since Trump announced his decision on the Paris agreement, more than 1,000 cities, states and businesses have declared their intention to continue driving down, because they correctly see it as being in their own best interests.  (Michael Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP, submitted their statement to the United Nations.)” (Bloomberg View, “U.S. can have a climate policy,” in the Waterloo Region Record edition of June 17, 2017)  And “mega-billionaire and former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg [offered] personally to foot the $15-million bill accounting for the U.S.’s financial commitment to United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change” (Review – Surviving Trump – Naomi Klein’s latest book is a cautiously hopeful document for a despairing age.” The book = No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need, reviewed by John Semley, The Globe and Mail, June 17, 2017).
  • “The White House announcement [of the United States’ pulling out of the Paris accord] reverberated through the U.S. business community.  Tesla founder Elon Musk, a strong supporter of the Paris agreement, announced he was stepping down as one of Mr. Trump’s economic advisers.  ‘Am departing presidential councils,’ he wrote on Twitter.  ‘Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world.’ Business leaders, including General Electric chief executive Jeff Immelt, Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein and Microsoft president Brad Smith, issued statements expressing disappointment in Mr. Trump’s decision, with companies such as Hewlet-Packard and Intel pledging to push forward with their own environmental initiatives.  ‘Climate change is real,’ Mr. Immelt wrote on Twitter.  Industry must now lead and not depend on government.’” (“Withdrawal: ‘Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change,’ Trudeau says”)
  • “In a statement June 1, 2017, 68 mayors representing 38 million Americans pledged to ‘adopt, honor and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement’” (Brian Roewe, “Paris climate deal exit ‘deeply troubling’ to Catholic leaders,” NCR [National Catholic Reporter], June 1, 2017 and updated June 2, 2017).
  • In regards to Trump’s statement, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” “The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that the mayor of the city Bill Peduto, called the president’s phrase ‘really sloppy speechwriting’ that portrayed his city as ‘this dirty old town that relies upon big coal and big steel to survive;” (James Pindell, “Ground Game: Inside Presidential Politics with the Boston Globe,” June 2, 2017).
  • “The U.S. Conference of Mayors said it strongly opposed the decision [to withdraw] and said mayors will continue efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming” (Jill Colvin and Julie Pace, “Trump pulls U.S. from Paris Climate Accord,” National Post, June 2, 2017).  The group’s vice-president, Mayor Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans, stated Trump’s action was short-sighted and will be devastating in the long run to Americans.  “In fact, he said, sea level rise caused by unchecked climate change could mean that cities like his ‘will cease to exist.’”  (Colvin and Pace)
  • “I was delighted that Governors of states that represent over 2/3rds of our economy are going to stand with the Pope and implement the accords [Paris Climate Agreement] anyway” (a response from “Kurt 20008” to “With the Paris Accord, Listen to our Popes – Not Trump” by Rebecca Bratton Weiss on Patheos, June 1, 2017).  Unfortunately, not all Catholics feel the same (see “See Noevo” in the same reference above: here “See Noevo” responds “I am a Catholic and a Trump voter, and I was delighted to hear the news today about the Paris Climate Discord.”
  • At this point, please allow me to refresh ourselves by considering some basic points of theology that we need to hold as Catholics (so that we do not get “lost” as we work our way through Trumpism).
  • “The Paris Agreement is a recognition by world leaders that just because we possess certain technologies, it does not mean we can keep using them at the expense of the health of our planet.  Unfortunately on this issue of our planet’s health, our country [the United States] will not be a leader.” (Father Pablo, “Au Revoir Paris, Farewell World,” Patheos, June 2, 2017)  This is very basic!
  • “Our moral obligation to contribute to the defense of the environment in solidarity with other nations is not just a matter of hippified whimsy.  Benedict XVI wrote very clearly, in Caritas in Veritate, that wealthier nations have an obligation to ‘reduce their energy use.’” (Weiss)
  • “Our Christian teaching is that original sin has affected everything.  It corrupts our friendships, our sexuality, our family life, our bodily desires, and spiritual dispositions.  Why would we imagine that the market, the realm of profit and loss, is immune to this corruption?  Why can we not see how our sinfulness mars the very soil on which we tread, the air we breathe?” (Weiss)
  • There is a big historical question embedded in what we are trying to do to counter climate change and the question is also embedded in Social Justice.  The developed countries have been polluting our atmosphere ever since the time of the Industrial Revolution but the developing countries have not.  So why should the developed world not have a greater responsibility to clean up our mess??  It does and this means that in justice the developed world should be putting more money and resources into cleaning our world than the developing nations – that is only fair since they have been polluting for centuries – a much longer time than developing nations!  So when President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris accord, he and the Americans who agree with him are shirking their duties and responsibilities.
  • Bishop Oscar Cantú, chair of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference Committee on International Justice and Peace, hits the nail right on the head when he points out that Pope Francis insists that the global north (the developed nations) has been a disproportionate consumer of creation’s goods and contributor to ecological harm; therefore it must repay its ecological debt to the global south (the developing nations).  As people living in the global north, we must do a lot of soul-searching (in grace) as to what we are going to do about it – drifting along as we have done in the past up to now with the cry of the poor in our ears will no longer cut it with God!  God have mercy on us and move us to action.  Amen.
  • Before we leave the above discussion/reflection on the Paris Accord and Trump’s withdrawal of the U.S. from it, we need to consider another very important situation in which we find ourselves in today’s world.  “By abandoning the world’s chief effort to slow the tide of planetary warming [the Paris Accord], Trump was fulfilling a top campaign pledge.  But he was also breaking from many of America’s staunchest allies, who have expressed alarm about the decision.” (Colvin and Pace) (emphasis added)  Trump’s withdrawal (along with his presence in Europe at the end of May 2017) changed the face of the earth literally!  He set in motion a number of directions and “re-alliances” that changes our world as we have been understanding it for a long long period of time.  In effect, practically everyone on the planet will be affected.  I was not fully aware of this as I did the research and writing for the last few editions of the Journal but then it hit me like a ton of bricks: how has the United States led by Donald Trump changed the Western world especially and how does it and will it affect me and us?  This is the big question that needs some comment and so we will turn to it immediately below.
  • “Donald Trump’s calamitous tour through Europe [the first time he was there as president] saw the U.S. President pointedly salvage or brusquely rebuff virtually all the political, trade, military, and ecological alliances that form the core of the postwar European and North American peace: in the days after the tour, he went even further, attacking allies and cancelling the world’s most difficult and important international agreement, the Paris climate accord.  In doing so he confirmed the worst fears of many: that the leadership of the United States no longer appears to be adhering to core Western values and principles.” (Douglas Sanders, “Globe Focus – Brave New Western World,” The Globe and Mail, June 2, 2017)
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stated it well.  “The times in which we could completely rely on others are somewhat over – that is what I experienced in the last few days” (in respect to her meetings with Trump).  We Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands … We alone have to fight for our own future, as Europeans, for our destiny.”
  • “We Europeans must really take our fate into our own hands, naturally in friendship with the United States of America, in friendship with Great Britain and – where we can be – as a good neighbor to Russia … But we must know that we alone have to fight for our own future, as Europeans, for our destiny.”
  • “What Ms. Merkel was saying – to play off a grating Canadian phrase – is that the world needs less America” (Randall Hansen of the University of Toronto, “Globe Focus – Brave New Western World,” The Globe and Mail, June 2, 2017).  Thus, “her recent speech reflected immense exasperation with President Trump and his policies.  The Chancellor’s words were both an indicator of a deep rift in the transatlantic relationship and a powerful signal that Germany and the European Union no longer view American leadership as possible or desirable.” (Hansen)
  • “Mr. Trump’s assault on so much that Europeans regard as essential has occurred in the context of Britain’s exit from the European Union, an exit which Mr. Trump, with typical ignorance, supported” (Hansen).
  • “The shared set of values – broadly if imperfectly in place since the end of the Second World War, which have more or less united North America, most of Europe, Australasia, and the democratic parts of Asia, have all been threatened [now].  When we speak of the Western world today, we are talking about a set of values and principles and commitments to institutions more than about any geographic location.  What grew out of the surviving democracies of Western Europe and North America after the Second World War has expanded to include scores of nations, on almost every continent, committed to broad principles of democracy, justice, human equality and international co-operation, around shared projects of prosperity, sustainability and security.” (Saunders)
  • “What Mr. Trump did – and what he has suggested has been wanting to do, throughout his presidency – is shift the United States into a pointedly anti-Western stance … The shock of Mr. Trump’s anti-Western thrust appears to have reminded many jaded Europeans why their political and economic union exists.  It is the only alternative to the isolationism that destroyed the continent’s peace in the last century.” (Saunders)
  • “Suddenly, the ever-chaotic and over-bureaucratized tedium of the European Union, the sad compromise of the Paris agreement, and the ineffective mess of NATO looks so much better than the Hobbesian [the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, 1588-1679, who was a materialist and a cynic who believed human acts are motivated by selfishness] alternatives embodied by Mr. Trump.  For citizens of other Western countries, including Canada, the frustrating experience of trade agreements, United Nations bodies and climate pacts suddenly seem worth it. We are reminded of the sense of threat and menace that led us to create these difficult international solutions in the 1940s and 1950s.  Today the new spirit is already visible.” (Saunders)
  • “Cecilia Malström, the Swedish politician who serves as Europe’s Trade Commissioner describes this in this way: ‘Trump’s election has opened many people’s eyes in Europe to how valuable the European Union and international co-operation are.  If the U.S. turns away from the international system, then we will simply have to look after it ourselves.’” (Saunders)
  • “For too long, Westerners have relied on U.S. might and wealth as their crutch, their backstop, as the foil that allows them to put off larger commitments to one another.  By walking away from the values that underpin the postwar democratic world – temporarily, we can hope – the United States may have created an emergency that has inadvertently brought the rest of the Western world closer, to overcome this gigantic hole in our collective centre.  As Canadians, and members of that threatened community, we owe it to our neighbours to help fill that hole.” (Saunders)
  • We will consider below the rest of Professor Hansen’s analysis which nicely complements that of the scholar Doug Saunders.
  • “The fracturing of the transatlantic relationship is a disaster for Europe and for the world.  Since 1945, the United States has been the core of the international global order built from the ashes of the Second World War, a war that left a staggering 50 million people dead.  There is much fashionable anti-Americanism on the European left, but the U.S. has overall been a force for good …
  • “Since the 1950s, a strong transatlantic relationship has been an anchor, arguably of the United States’ support for the liberal international order: rule-based multilateralism, free trade and strong international institutions.  This order is essential to global prosperity and international stability.  At precisely the moment when the German relationship, because of Brexit, is more important than ever to the United States, Mr. Trump, with his fits of childish pique, has essentially repudiated it.  Now that the president has proved himself hopeless, and the Europeans believe they need to look after themselves, the question is whether Germany and the rest of the European Union can step into the void left by America’s retreat from the world stage.  The evidence is that they cannot.” (Hansen)…
  • “The European Union may well develop something like a European army, but it will remain small and its rules of engagement severe; it will not become a substitute for NATO, and NATO again depends on U.S. support and financing.  As the transatlantic relationship frays, the most powerful liberal-democratic bloc in the world – a remarkable space of wealth, democracy, and human rights – will weaken, and the autocrats will grow in confidence.  Under a Trump presidency, it is very likely that we will see an expansion in the power and influence of the three powers most hostile to liberal democracy: China, Russia and Turkey.” (Hansen) …
  • “There are thus very few reasons for optimism.  The only good news is that the present dangers are contingent rather than structural: They are the direct result of the election of President Trump.  The undisguised joy with which Chancellor Merkel and the German public welcomed former president Obama during his recent visit demonstrates the depth of the Germans’ desire to have a close relationship with the America so many of them love.” (Hansen) …
  • “The U.S. system was designed by its founding fathers, who had an elitist’s healthy suspicion of the mob, with the likes of a President Trump – a dangerous and unstable demagogue with authoritarian tendencies – in mind.  That system is being currently tested, and as the founding fathers hoped, the protective checks and balances are kicking in.  The courts blocked the – let’s call it what it was – Muslim Ban.  Mr. Trump’s revised health-care reform will almost certainly die in the Senate; and his regressive budget (aimed only at transferring wealth from the poor to the rich) will not pass.” (Hansen)
  • “His most notable achievement beyond insulting most global leaders, has been the appointment of a Supreme Court judge who is a conservative, to be sure, but by no means a fanatic.  Added to this are the only two merits to Mr. Trump’s personality: his odd tendency to check and balance himself, and his inability to focus on anything for more than four minutes.” (Hansen)
  • “That, and above all the American institutions over which he presides, will ensure that the next U.S. president is able to rebuild both the transatlantic relationship and the global liberal order.  Until then, keep that beer mug at the ready.  It is going to be a rough ride.” (Hansen)  It certainly is a different world, isn’t it?
  • A world-wide survey just released (but taken in the second half of February 2017) reflects the above as does a  second survey.
  • “A deep national revulsion toward President Donald Trump has sent Canadians’ opinions of the United States plummeting to a level of antipathy never before seen in the 35 years a pollster has been asking.  A major Pew Research survey released June 25, 2017, found that just 43% of Canadians hold a favourable view of the U.S., with 51% having an unfavourable view.  That is a steep decline since last year [2016], the final year of Democrat Barack Obama’s presidency, when Pew found 65% of Canadians were favorably disposed to the U.S. and it is lower than even the low point of the unpopular presidency of Republican George W. Bush, when 55% of Canadians were favourable.  At no time since at least the early 1980s, and likely much earlier, have a majority of Canadians held a negative view of our neighbor and ally.” (Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief, “Here’s how much Canada hates Trump,” Toronto Star, June 27, 2017)
  • “The rise of Trump has almost certainly caused the precipitous fall.  Under Obama last year [2016], 83% of Canadians had confidence in the president to do the right thing in world affairs.  Under Trump this year [2017], it is a mere 22%.” (Dale)
  • “Perceptions of the U.S. have worsened dramatically on every continent since Trump’s election.  Only in Russia has there been a significant improvement – 26 percentage points.  Pew has never found Canadians so displeased with the U.S. since it launched the survey in 2002.
  • A second survey, “a recent Environics survey found a similarly historic result: 53% of Canadians were unfavourable, the first majority disapproval since the firm started polling the issue in 1982.” (Dale)
  • “‘Most Canadians think, I believe, that the Americans go into periodic episodes of utter craziness, and they are in one now,’ said historian Jack Granatstein, author of a book on Canadian anti-American sentiment.  ‘So it is not surprising that Canadians would reach back to their history from Confederation and think at some time they did not like the United States.” (Dale)
  • “A majority of Canadians, 52%, said they expect the relationship [with the U.S.] to stay the same.  But 37% said it would get worse, while only 9% said it would get better.  Canadians are still fans of their everyday counterparts across the border, though a bit less than during the Obama era.  Sixty-five % said they have a favourable view of Americans, down from 71% in 2013.” (Dale)
  • “Canadians clearly dislike Trump and what he stands for, and they want their government to pursue an independent path that reflects their values.  But on the other hand, Canadians expect their government to maintain an effective relationship with the United States, including the president.” (Roland Paris, University of Ottawa professor and a former senior Trudeau foreign policy adviser)
  • Lastly, the percentage of Canadians who have confidence that these leaders will do the right thing in world affairs:
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel = 66%
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping = 30%
  • U.S. President Donald Trump = 22%
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin = 19%
  • It is time now to wrap all this up!
  • In what we have done, we have come to know President Donald Trump and how he is impacting on the whole world.  We truly know what the many issues are (including the issues for believers) and we have considered a large number of Catholic responses to many of these.
  • Please be aware that this Trump study takes a lot of research and work to cover adequately; moreover, it is very interesting and pulls us into itself because it truly is fascinating.
  • Let us quickly look at some of the more important existent challenges and problems we encountered.
  • One thing that struck me very deeply was how much time, energy, effort, and resources were consumed by these challenges and problems in the United States – time, energy, effort, and resources that could have gone into governing the nation.  What a waste!
  • The writer for The New York Times, Ed Brooks, stated it well and succinctly, i.e., “administration and government too distracted to do its job.”
  • David Shribman of The Globe and Mail posed a very good question, i.e., “is the President reckless – or is he merely a rookie?” (“Opinion – The ‘rookie’ President Trump – or is he just plain reckless?,” June 19, 2017)  “The list of Mr. Trump’s rookie errors may include a rush to repeal Obamacare without establishing sufficient political support for a specific plan; a miscalculation of the political difference between impulsive statements on Twitter and carefully constructed statements of White House policy; an indifference to the sensitivities of American allies; and an unfamiliarity with the implications of his inclinations.  The latter includes his skepticism of trade agreements, which prompted a swift intervention this spring from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto that resulted in an abrupt Trump decision to put off withdrawing from NAFTA.” (Shribman)
  • Furthermore, “‘early in a presidency is a good time to get things done, and it is absolutely crucial to build strong relationships with Congress,’ said Burdett A. Loomis, a University of Kansas specialist on congressional affairs.  ‘But Trump does not have the patience or perhaps even the skill with those kinds of relationships, and as a result he is not in control of events.’ Many political analysts believe Mr. Trump’s inexperience is contributing to his difficulties early in his term.  One obstacle: unlike previous presidents, who consulted with their predecessors in their early White House days, Mr. Trump lacks such a relationship with even one of his past four predecessors … Mr. Trump is receiving a poor verdict from the American public.  His current approval rate is at 37% in the Gallup survey, the lowest of any modern president at this period – though Mr. Bill Clinton, at 41%, was close.” (Shribman)
  • Can we say a bit more about how Trump governs?  We will do so briefly below.
  • “Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, has not been in office for very long, but already the contours and characteristics of his rule have become clear.  Rather than govern conventionally, through officers of state appointed for their competence and experience and with the agreement, however reluctant, of Congress, he has chosen to gather around him an informal coterie of friends, advisers, and relatives – many of them, like himself, without any experience of government at all – while railing against the restrictions imposed on him by constitutional arrangements such as the independence of the press and the judiciary.  Trump’s entourage resembles nothing more closely than the court of a hereditary monarch, with informal structures of rule elbowing aside more formal ones.  Trump did, after all, win widespread support in the electorate by promising precisely this: shaking up, bypassing or overthrowing the Washington establishment and trying something new.
  • “The result, however, has been chaos and confusion, contradiction and paralysis.  It has become clear that the president of the United States is someone who does not read his briefs; who does not take the advice of experts in the intelligence field or indeed in any other; who fires off brief statements without thinking whether they are consistent with his administration’s declared policies; who is seemingly incapable of putting together a coherent sentence with a subject, a verb and an object; who is apt to give away state secrets to a foreign power; and who seems to have no respect either for the truth or for the Constitution.” (Richard Evans, “the Madness of King Donald,” Toronto Star, June 18, 2017)
  • Naomi Kein, in her book No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Need adds that “Trump’s assertion that he knows how to fix America because he is rich is nothing more than an uncouth, vulgar echo of a dangerous idea we have been hearing for years: that Bill Gates can fix Africa.  Or that Richard Branson and Michael Bloomberg can solve climate change.” Klein has no use for such champions!
  • What motivates Trump? “Most Republican legislators have few illusions about Trump’s lack of competence … There has been much rumination as to what motivates Trump to behave in the confrontational manner he does, but the best analysis I have seen was provided by David Brooks in his New York Times column (May 16, 2017).  He suggests that Trump suffers from arrested personality development, where he has the emotional deportment of a 10-year-old, the inability to sustain attention span on an issue for very long, the lack of sympathy for others, an inability to have self-awareness of how others see him, and a narcissistic obsession with himself always in the middle of everything.  These are the puerile characteristics of a child.

     “Because he came into office with little awareness of history (his ridiculous comments about Frederick Douglass and Andrew Jackson), the Constitution, how the political process works (he acts as if he has never taken an introductory U.S. government course) and any sense of strategy beyond influencing the next day’s media headlines.  He has purposely selected an inexperienced senior staff that is in constant conflict with each other, and is probably responsible for many of the embarrassing leaks Trump complains about.  This, however, seems to be mitigated by the fact that he rarely listens to them anyway and prefers to rely on his gut feeling in making decisions.” (Professor Barry Kay of Wilfrid Laurier University and a member of the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy, “Trump’s saving grace is his incompetence,” Waterloo Region Record, June 7, 2017).  What Professor Kay states sounds a bit harsh to me but it has the ring of authenticity!  Bob Hepburn in his article, “Don’t invite Trump for official visit [to Canada],” (Waterloo Region Record, June 26, 2017) states Trump is “a man who has done more to unleash the racist, bigoted undertone of the United States than any U.S. leader in any of our lifetimes;” he also describes Trump as arrogant and ignorant.

  • Trump’s firing of James Comey is truly unbelievable.  Does it make sense to fire the person who is investigating you?? Does that not raise so many hard-to-answer questions??
  • “The former director of the FBI says Donald Trump is a liar who improperly tried to shut down a criminal investigation of a key ally and then fired him in an attempt to influence the investigation into dealings between Russia and the president’s campaign … James Comey built an extraordinary case that Trump’s words and acts were inappropriate and may have constituted obstruction of justice … Before the Senate Intelligence Committee, Comey made clear that Trump himself, not just his associates, faces significant legal and political peril … On the whole, though, his testimony amounted to a searing indictment of the president’s conduct and character.  By the time he was done, a Trump spokesperson, Sarah Sanders, felt the need to issue the kind of denial political messengers usually try to avoid.  ‘I can definitely say the president is not a liar.’” (Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief, “ ‘Lordy, I hope there are tapes,’” Toronto Star, June 9, 2017)
  • As I write, the Republicans with Trump’s urgings are kicking about a health-care bill in Congress to repeal Obamacare and pass a functioning health-care bill for the American people.  “The replacement, in the version before Congress, is dramatically worse.  It would strip more than 20 million low-income Americans of their health insurance while raising the cost for millions of others.” (Geoffrey Stevens, Wilfrid Laurier University and University of Guelph, “Get real: It’s possible to live with the impossible,” Waterloo Region Record, June 19, 2017)  A big part of the problem is the distrust so many Americans have toward their government.  The Congressional Budget Office states the number who would lose their health coverage is 22 million.  One does not get the feeling that Trump and his administration and the U.S. government really have a great feeling for how bad this would be!  This health-care act is the one the American bishops are having trouble with because it is not friendly to the poor, the elderly, and people with certain illnesses.
  • As we all know, this president loves his tweets but often they are problematic.
  • “Dianne Feinstein, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said ‘the message the president is sending through his tweets is that he believes the rule of law does not apply to him and that anyone who thinks otherwise will be fired.  That is undemocratic on its face and a blatant violation of the president’s oath of office.’ Aides have counselled the president to stay off Twitter and focus on other aspects of his job.  They have tried to highlight the positive reviews he received when he made a statesman-like appearance in the White House to address the nation after Representative Steve Scalise was shot during a congressional baseball practice.  Yet Trump’s angry tweets on June 16, 2017 underscored the near-impossible challenge his advisers and legal team have in trying to get him to avoid weighing in an active probe.” (Julie Pace and Jonathan Lemire, “Trump confirms he’s under investigation,” Waterloo Region Record, June 17, 2017) (The active probe has to do with Russia’s election meddling and is investigating him in respect to this matter; Trump was angry and called this investigation a “Witch Hunt.”)
  • Trump’s tweets to London’s mayor in England have people shaking their heads.  “It pains me to write this: my president acted like a clod, a heartless and dull-witted thug in sending out a series of tweets [about the terrorist attack in London].  He – commander in chief and leader of the free world – first retweeted an unverified, unofficial headline about the unfolding terrorist attack.  Then he aimed to bolster his Muslim travel ban (which is not supposed to be a Muslim travel ban).

     “‘We need to be smart, vigilant and tough,’ he tweeted.  ‘We need the courts to give us back our rights.  We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!’ (Aside from the inappropriateness of President Donald Trump’s tweet, he fails to grasp that the courts in these cases are reaffirming Americans’ rights against an overreaching, discriminatory edict.)

     “After receiving blowback for that obnoxious missive, he tweeted out, ‘whatever the United States can do to help out in London and the U.K. [United Kingdom], we will be there – WE ARE WITH YOU. GOD BLESS!’ But then he decided to slam the mayor of the city attacked [London], who had calmly warned his fellow Londoners: ‘Londoners will see an increased police presence today and over the course of the next few days.  There’s no reason to be alarmed.’

     “Trump took the second part out of context and responded viciously, ‘At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and the Mayor of London says there is no reason to be alarmed!’ (The mayor, of course, was telling people not to be alarmed by the heightened police presence.)  Trump was not done, however, inanely tweeting. ‘do you notice we are having a gun debate right now?  That is because they used knives and a truck.’

     “One is prompted to ask if he is off his rocker.  But this is vintage Trump – impulsive and cruel, without an ounce of class or human decency.” (Jennifer Rubin, “Trump’s London tweets embarrass himself and America,” Waterloo Region Record, June 6, 2017).

  • The London mayor Sadiq Khan responded that Trump had taken him out of context and the American ambassador to the United Kingdom tried to be a peacemaker.  But Trump went after Khan once more, tweeting “pathetic excuse by London mayor Sadiq Kahn who had to think fast on his ‘no reason to be alarmed’ statement.  MSM [mainstream media] is working hard to sell it!” Can you believe this??? WOW!
  • “More than two million people have signed a petition demanding May [prime Minister Theresa May who along with Queen Elizabeth earlier in 2017 had invited Trump for a state visit] withdraw the invitation of a state visit because of Trump’s ‘misogyny and vulgarity,’ although the petition says Trump should be able to enter the U.K. …

     “London Mayor Sadiq Khan … openly called for May to cancel Trump’s invitation.  ‘I do not think we should roll out the red carpet to the president of the U.S.A. in the circumstances where his policies go against everything we stand for,’ Khan said.  The Queen added fuel to speculation the visit may be cancelled when she failed to mention it in her annual speech setting out her official plans for the year.

     “The Observer newspaper echoed Khan’s sentiment in an editorial.  ‘The prospect of this loathsome man being afforded the full honours of the British state is quite simply disgusting,’ it said. ‘It is an affront to the British people and British values.  It could cause lasting damage to the Anglo-American relationship.  Assuming he is not impeached first, oafish Trump must be told: you are not welcome here,’ the editorial concluded.” (Hepburn)

  • We come now to a question that for me is critical to this whole discussion on Trumpism and Catholicism.  And that is the phenomenon that Trump lies a lot.  Most people who study him and know something about him would say this is the case.
  • This matter is covered simply but rightly in a letter to the editor in The Globe and Mail for June 13, 2017.  The letter comes from Susan Ellis of White Rock, British Columbia and is reproduced below.
  • “President Donald Trump accuses former FBI director James Comey of lying and says he would be ‘100% willing’ to share his own version of events under oath.  Does anyone believe that speaking under oath would make any difference to Mr. Trump?

     “He lied during the Republican leadership campaign (about not releasing his tax returns because we was being audited, and being respectful to women).  He lied during the presidential campaign (about Barack Obama, about immigrants, about young black men and police).  He lied at his swearing in ceremony (about the size of crowds, about his popularity).  He lied during his first 100 days (about the news media, about voter fraud, about climate change being a hoax).

     “Now he lies about James Comey committing perjury – but oddly enough saying Mr. Comey’s testimony actually vindicates him (Mr. Trump).  I think we should all start calling Mr. Trump what he really is, President Pants On Fire.

     Susan Ellis, White Rock, British Columbia”

  • Daniel Dale is the Toronto Star’s Washington correspondent who started checking Trump’s false statements; his work today is well known throughout the world (thestar.com).  “Dale uses the term ‘false claims’ and not lies because he cannot always prove whether Trump is deliberately being untruthful” (Jayme Poisson, Staff Reporter, “Inside the Star – How Daniel Dale checks Trump’s false statements,” Toronto Star, June 17, 2017)  And "“since Trump’s January inauguration, Dale has found 294 Trump falsehoods” (ibid.).  Other media are beginning to do this now, e.g., The Washington Post but for many months, Dale was the only one doing this.
  • At this point it may be helpful to give a synopsis of all of the above and of the many critics’ views of Trump in office.  The following is a synopsis from the July 2017 magazine, New Republic, which has a series of articles to make the point that “Trump has turned us [Americans] into a nation of crackpots and conspiracy theorists”; the series of articles express the theme, ‘The United States of Crazy.”  Here is how they describe Trump at one point.  “The deep wounded insecurity.  The obsession with bad press.  The coddling advisers.  The talent for repackaging complex ideas as cheap slogans.”
  • There are some beginning moves to impeach Trump, e.g., one by two House Democrats (Al Green and Brad Sherman).  Green has said, “The question really is whether the president can obstruct justice with impunity.  We live in a country where no congressman, no senator and not even the president of the United States of America is above the law.”  “To many Democrats and liberals, Trump is an ethically challenged narcissist who tweets ridiculous statements at all hours of the day and night.  To Trump supporters, he is a bona fide maverick who is keeping his promises by shaking up the Washington establishment.” (Stephen Ohlemacher of The Associated Press, “Bid to impeach Trump launched,” Waterloo Region Record, June 8, 2017)  At this point, these initiatives are few and just beginning; impeachment could happen but it is not necessarily assured.  We just need to wait and see if anything materializes here.
  • Some things are or should be off limits.  One example is the comedian Kathy Griffin’s holding up the head of Trump (a beheaded head).  This is absolutely gross and absolutely wrong.  I am glad there was a lot of negative reaction to this.  Another example is the production of one of Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, in New York City’s Central Park, where the killed Caesar resembles Mr. Trump.  Again this is gross and wrong and thank God there was a lot of negative reaction to this too.  A third example in this area: the actor Johnny Depp was in England and in a comedy performance had a dialogue about an actor assassinating the President, e.g., John Wilkes Booth assassinating President Lincoln but the audience realized he was speaking about Trump.  This too in my books is crude and off limits!
  • In The Globe and Mail for June 13, 2017, Simon Houpt (“‘I really just felt this urgency’) interviews Naomi Klein.  She here speaks about Trump, chaos and what it was like writing her new book in a quick turnaround time; the book is No Is Not Enough which we have already encountered above.
  • She was asked one question which intrigued me: “speaking of social media, late in the book you talk about the need for each of us to kill our ‘inner Trump.’ Which part of your Inner Trump would you most like to kill?”  Her answer: “The way that my own attention span has been steadily fracturing in the age of social media.  And putting me in a more reactive space than I want to be.  But I have always tried to kill my own brand.  This has been an ongoing attempt.” Because I have been doing so much work on Trump and Trumpism, this resonated with me but I could not clearly read and discern my reaction here until I looked at another answer she gave to another question and then things cleared up.  That answer is given below.
  • “You know, I am trying to look to Trump and the resistance to Trump and the response to Trump through the lens of the things I know [and here I think that it is legitimate to think of Faith also], in the hopes that it may be helpful.  Because one of the things that worries me the most is, because Trump is so bizarre and so unlike any U.S. president we have seen before, there is this narrative that takes him out of the context of history, you know?  And I think that is incredibly harmful and destabilizing, because when we are a blank sheet – when everything we knew before does not apply to this new, bizarre reality –.”
  • I know this is not the easiest thing to understand but stay with it for a while to get her understanding and insights – they are worth the struggle in terms of personal growth.
  • What we have done covers the topic of Trumpism (and Trumpism and Catholicism) well enough for our purposes and so this ends our long discussion/commentary on this area.
  • In the future, we will not be looking at Trumpism unless something happens that strongly impinges on our Faith and/or the new Church we are trying to build together with Pope Francis: in that case, we will consider the matter.
  • I realize that I have built up my take on the matter which follows a certain direction.  You may not agree with it and that is fine.  A good article that takes a different approach than mine is “Trump delivering on his promises” by Lawrence Solomon in the National Post, June 26, 2017.  Here the author notes that detractors attack Trump but he is rapidly fulfilling his presidential mandate, e.g., in his first 100 days, Trump signed 13 congressional Review Acts (more than any other president), 30 executive orders (more than any president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt), and enacted 28 laws (more than any other president since Harry Truman).
  • In all this, do keep in mind that ”rational thought will always trump lies – that’s the truth” by Professor Mark Kingwell of the university of Toronto (see The Globe and Mail, June 17, 2017).  As disciples of Christ we know that if we do our best, the truth will always conquer!  It always will come out!
  • Do keep remembering the Gospel imperative – we judge actions but not the whole person which is God’s job.  This is difficult but do-able with the Risen One’s graces.
  • Please pray for President Trump, his administration, the American people, and all people in the world impacted by Trumpism.  We also need to undertake do-able actions as much and as well as we can, e.g., sermons/homilies that touch on some of the important points of these reflections.

 

God fill you with His/Her love, compassion, and mercy, and grant you the fullness of hope.  Amen.

 

Father Fred Scinto, C.R.,

Resurrection Ministries,

Waterloo, Ontario, Canada.

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