The Al Smith Dinner is an annual opportunity, for the benefit of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, for a little good-natured fun on the parts of candidates for public office. Hosted by the Archbishop of New York, the Democratic and Republican contenders usually put aside their differences, have some laughs at the expense of each other and generally allow their “better angels” to shine. This was not the case this year.
On the positive side, Cardinal Timothy Dolan described the two candidates as “kind of awkward together” but noted that there was similar “iciness” four years ago when Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Obama. Cardinal Dolan stated: “The purpose of the evening is to break some of the ice, and thanks be to God, it works.”
He also said on the Today show that “After the little prayer, Mr. Trump turned to Secretary Clinton and said, ‘You are one tough and talented woman.’ He said, ‘This has been a good experience, this whole campaign, as tough as it’s been.’” “She said to him, ‘Donald, whatever happens, we need to work together afterward.’”
On the negative side, booing often marked the comments of the candidates, particularly that of Mr. Trump. After receiving one such set of boos, he said, “I don’t know who they’re angry at Hillary, you or I … For example, here she is tonight, in public, pretending not to hate Catholics.” He was alluding to a week of e-mails leaks from top Clinton staffers with some severe anti-Catholic remarks and an actual plan to foment dissent in the Roman Catholic Church in America.
What are we as Catholics to do? Neither candidate offers completely a leadership and a moral vision that is in any way compatible with a Catholic or indeed a truly integrated world-view. Catholics must truly inform themselves on the issues that affect all human beings, the most important, of course, being life itself and its protection and sanctity, from conception to natural death. The dignity of that human life lived is essential; therefore issues of the dignity of migrants and immigrants, the death penalty, the dignity of women and children, war and international affairs must also be weighed.
Study the issues; inform your conscience on the official teaching of the Church, which can be discovered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the teachings of the popes and the bishops; it is a duty to vote and don’t just vote along party line. Above all, pray for a peaceful transition.