US Archbishop laments ‘flawed presidential candidates’

One of America’s most prominent prelates has voiced his strong concern at the quality of candidates standing in the 2016 presidential election.

In a scathing assessment of the campaign to date, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia said he had not previously known a year in which the contending political parties had “at the same time, offered two such deeply flawed presidential candidates”. 

“The 1972 Nixon/McGovern race comes close.  But 2016 wins the crown.”

Archbishop Chaput’s intervention came as he delivered the annual Tocqueville Lecture at Notre Dame University on September 15.


Making no mention of either Donal Trump or Senator Hillary Clinton by name, the archbishop nevertheless stated: “Only God knows the human heart, so I presume that both major candidates for the White House this year intend well and have a reasonable level of personal decency behind their public images. But I also believe that each candidate is very bad news for our country, though in different ways.

“One candidate, in the view of a lot of people, is a belligerent demagogue with an impulse control problem. And the other, also in the view of a lot of people, is a criminal liar, uniquely rich in stale ideas and bad priorities.”

However, Archbishop Chaput went on to warn Catholic voters against giving in to apathy and cynicism when faced with such a poor field of candidates.

“We’ve reached a moment when our political thinking and vocabulary as a nation seem exhausted,” he warned. “The real effect that we as individuals have on the government and political class that claim to represent us – the big mechanical Golem we call Washington – is so slight that it breeds indifference and anger.” 

But, he insisted, “the choices we make and the actions we take do make a difference. The political vocation matters because, done well, it can ennoble the society it serves.”

On the two candidates for the Oval Office, he concluded: “The surest way to make the country suffer is to not contest them in public debate and in the voting booth.”

America goes to the polls on November 8.