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September 16, 2016

Philly archbishop: Trump and Clinton are both 'very bad news'

Chaput pulls no punches, also rips Notre Dame for honoring Biden

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, like many Americans, isn't thrilled with his choices in this year's presidential election.

The city's top Catholic official gave a lecture at the University of Notre Dame Thursday, in which he discussed the current political climate and election season.

Chaput noted that in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, there are plenty of "bad actors." He referenced those convicted or suspected of wrongdoing in the five years he's been archbishop, including former Attorney General Kathleen Kane and former Congressman Chaka Fattah, who both resigned after being convicted of various crimes this past year, and Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams, who is under an FBI probe after belatedly disclosing a number of large gifts. (The state of Pennsylvania, he mentioned, has its own Wikipedia page for convicted politicians.)

Yet run-of-the-mill corruption pales in comparison to the two candidates running for president this year, Chaput, 72, argued.

"I’ve been voting since 1966. That’s exactly 50 years. And in that half-century, the major parties have never, at the same time, offered two such deeply flawed presidential candidates," Chaput said, according to a transcript from Catholic Philly.

Chaput prefaced his assessments of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump by saying that only God "knows the human heart," so he assumes they both must have a "reasonable level of personal decency."

However: "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."

Harsh words, for sure, but they do seem to echo overall public opinion. Never before have both major party presidential candidates been so unpopular.

Chaput went on to say that it is still a Catholic's duty to vote, no matter how unappealing the choices. Yet the "political thinking and vocabulary as a nation seem exhausted," Chaput said.

The rest of Chaput's speech mainly focused on three titular themes: "Sex, family and the liberty of the Church."

But he did delve back into politics later on, criticizing Notre Dame for honoring Vice President Joe Biden earlier this year, a move Chaput called a "baffling error of judgment."

"For the nation’s leading Catholic university to honor a Catholic public official who supports abortion rights and then goes on to conduct a same-sex civil marriage ceremony just weeks later, is – to put it kindly – a contradiction of Notre Dame’s identity."

Biden, along with former House Speaker John Boehner, received Notre Dame's Laetare Medal in May. The award is given to recognize outstanding service to the Catholic Church and society.

"What matters isn’t the vice president’s personal decency or the university’s admirable intentions," Chaput said. "The problem, and it’s a serious problem, is one of public witness and the damage it causes both to the faithful and to the uninformed."

Chaput's entire speech can be read here.