Far more interesting than the perennial attempts of Democratic politicians to shore up the votes of nominal Catholics is what President Trump’s re-election campaign has done with its official Catholic outreach group. Among those appointed three weeks ago to the advisory board of Catholics For Trump is Taylor Marshall, an author and YouTube personality who is best known for his inflammatory remarks about the current occupant of the Holy See. In a recent video entitled “Why Is Pope Francis Against Trump?” Marshall baldly asserts that “Pope Francis has compared President Trump to Hitler, to the Nazis.” Never mind the fact that the Holy Father has never said anything of the kind in his published remarks or in any comments attributed to him or that Trump has himself visited Rome at Francis’ request. This is Marshall’s modus operandi: getting Catholics to be angry at the pope by distorting or simply lying about the latter’s views. Doing so in the course of a political campaign on behalf of a major political party has been unthinkable since at least the Roosevelt administration, but we live in strange times.
What do Trump’s people hope to accomplish with Marshall, I wonder? Pope Francis has likened abortion to the Holocaust and declared gender ideology more dangerous than nuclear weapons. The kind of people who think that for all this he is some kind of crypto-Marxist trying to destroy the Church from the inside were not clamoring at the door to vote for Biden anyway. The decision to involve Marshall is a reminder not that the Catholic vote is up for grabs but that vast swathes of it are already so devoted to Trump that nothing, not even mocking Christ’s vicar, will change their minds.