There have been many reactions to President-elect Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 election including protests, unwillingness to accept Trump as the new president, and even violent acts towards the results of the election. However, United States Catholic bishops are challenging their flock to continue to be Christ in the world, and to turn away from conflict. Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville and president of the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops, urged the people of the United States to work for the common good in his statement following the election of Donald Trump. “Let us not see each other in the divisive light of Democrat or Republican or any other political party,” exhorted Kurtz, “But rather, let us see the face of Christ in our neighbors, especially the suffering or those with whom we may disagree.”

Archbishop Kurtz reminded the people that Pope Francis had once said that politics should aim for the common good and should constantly keep in mind each person’s dignity. The archbishop also recognized that there are many people in America who are still suffering and still want their voices to be heard. “We hear you,” he assured. “The responsibility to help strengthen families belongs to each of us.”

His Excellency Gregory J. Hartmeyer, bishop of the Diocese of Savannah, quoted Archbishop Kurtz in his own post-election statement and emphasized that the people of his diocese should work to be faithful citizens. “I join in the Archbishop’s call and ask all Catholics in South Georgia to look past the divisions so often highlighted in partisan politics,” said Bishop Hartmeyer. “It is the face of God that we see in our neighbors, and it is will of God that we work towards justice and liberty for all people.” He went on to recall Pope Francis’ words in Evangelii Gaudium:

“…Each of us should find ways to communicate Jesus wherever we are. All of us are called to offer others an explicit witness to the saving love of the Lord, who despite our imperfections offers us his closeness, his word and his strength, and gives meaning to our lives.”

Bishop Michael Burbidge, newly-appointed bishop for the Diocese of Arlington, recalls the election as a gift and a blessing, regardless of the outcome. “The democratic process in which we participated…is one of our greatest blessings as a nation and the direct result of the precious gift of the freedom we have been given,” shared Bishop Burbidge. He encouraged that we must all remember that we are first children of God, as this unifies us as God’s family and citizens of this country. “Such relationships are the bedrock of our society, and it is our sacred duty to foster them so that nothing divides us. When we live in such harmony, there will be true dialogue and the exchange of ideas will occur in a civil and respectful manner.”

Like many other bishops, Bishop Burbidge advised the people towards unity, but also to continue to support politics that are in accordance with the Faith and with the good of every person at every stage of their life.

“As Catholics, we are called to renew our commitments to bring our faith into the public arena and help shape public policies, especially with regard to the sacredness of human life at every moment; the dignity of each and every human person; the protection of religious freedom; the sanctity of marriage and family life; and the care of the poor and most needy in our midst. In this way, with God’s grace, we help to ensure that the next generation inherits a nation more civil, more ethical, and more devoted to achieving peace which is true and lasting.”

Archbishop’s Kurtz’s statement also supports working to protect each human life “from it’s vulnerable beginning to it’s natural end.” As bishops of the United States, the president of the conference also assured that they would support policies that allowed opportunities for every person, regardless of race or religion. They would also support the bishop’s statement on migrants and immigration, saying that they can and should be welcomed without sacrificing or compromising the security of our country. Kurtz also remembers those Christians suffering for their faith in the Middle East and around the globe, and promised to advocate for those who were being witnesses to Christ in their persecution. Finally, he stated,  “We will look for the new administration’s commitment to domestic religious liberty, ensuring people of faith remain free to proclaim and shape our lives around the truth about man and woman, and the unique bond of marriage that they can form.”

“Every election brings a new beginning,” Kurtz said. “Some may wonder whether the country can reconcile, work together and fulfill the promise of a more perfect union. Through the hope Christ offers, I believe God will give us the strength to heal and unite.” The archbishop concluded his statement by urging the United States citizens to pray for the elected leaders, that they courageously accept the responsibilities they have been given, and to unite as Catholics to be “faithful and joyful witnesses to the healing love of Jesus.”

The USCCB has posted on their website the following prayer to be said after an election

God of all nations,
Father of the human family,
we give you thanks for the freedom we exercise
and the many blessings of democracy we enjoy
in these United States of America.
We ask for your protection and guidance
for all who devote themselves to the common good,
working for justice and peace at home and around the world.
We lift up all our duly elected leaders and public servants,
those who will serve us as president, as legislators and judges,
those in the military and law enforcement.
Heal us from our differences and unite us, O Lord,
with a common purpose, dedication, and commitment to achieve liberty and justice
in the years ahead for all people,
and especially those who are most vulnerable in our midst.
Amen.