Opinion

Why I agreed to serve on Trump’s Catholic Advisory Committee

Providing a faithful Catholic voice goes beyond our work at LifeSiteNews., including one LSN journalist accepting invitation to be on the Trump Catholic advisory committee
Wed Oct 5, 2016 - 7:19 pm EST
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Lisa Bourne with then LifeSite journalist Andrew Guernsey covering the 2015 Synod on the Family in Vatican City John-Henry Westen/LifeSite

URBANDALE, Iowa, October 5, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – When I received an invitation to serve on the Catholic Advisory Committee for the Trump-Pence presidential campaign, LifeSite management and I at first deliberated about whether or not to accept. 

Though I would serve as an individual, my commitment could be associated with being a reporter for LifeSiteNews in the minds of some. Despite the advisory nature of the committee, this opened the door to confusion as far as LifeSite endorsing a political candidate, which our news organization does not do.

With the two major party candidates’ respective stances on LifeSite’s issues of concern — life, family and culture — there may already be those who assume LifeSite endorses Donald Trump.

That is incorrect, and the conclusion could only be arrived at without regard for the nature of our reporting on both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

LifeSite sees its role as one holding every candidate accountable, pre- and post-election, on the core issues related to our mission, as well as publishing any and all good that they do and say related to those issues.

Another reality is that there are differing views on Trump within the LifeSite team, some pretty intense. LifeSite management considers that to be healthy for objective journalism.

The candidates stand where they stand; we report where they stand, what they say, and the actions they take. Their positions and our reporting on them speak for themselves. We provide these to you as the reader and you take it from there.

I had to discern the idea of serving on the Catholic Advisory Committee personally as well, given the rampant hostility and derision in this election cycle. We often get it from both sides at the same time. 

It wasn’t so much a case of fear. Rather the question was, with so much unhinged rhetoric in the air, how could one possibly affect something positively?

In the end, it all took a back seat to something bigger.

Said yes to invitation

My bosses and I concurred that the opportunity to be part of the Catholic voice advising the Trump-Pence campaign was of immense importance, and that the opportunity came with both the call and a responsibility to advocate on behalf of my authentic faith principles.

Those principles are actually also common to most genuinely believing Christians of various non-Catholic Christian denominations. 

The Catholic Church and her teaching, along with all Christians, have been under assault from secularists opposed to Christian morality and natural law for some time now.

But this offensive is in a dangerously escalated mode today, with life, marriage, and family in its crosshairs.

People of faith in the U.S. are having their right to live according to their religious beliefs attacked on an increasing basis. And I don’t think it is at all overstating it to say our very lives are more on the line now, with martyrdom no longer a reality limited to “somewhere else.” 

In every election cycle now, the statement gets batted around that the vote before us is the most critical in our lifetime.

This is also no overstatement today, when considering for instance, the prospect of Supreme Court appointments that will come before the next president.

We know that for years to come the high court will continue to factor heavily in the battle being waged over life, marriage, family, and freedom of religion.

With any respective Supreme Court justice, a lifetime appointment to the court could mean an era with demonstrated regard for the Constitution, or it could mean an age of judicial tyranny.  

So, yes, the opportunity to have a hand in authentic, faithful Catholic principles being heard in this election emerged for me as a must.

An honor to present solid Catholic view on any candidate's campaign

It was an honor and duty placed in front of me, and it is worth noting that the invitation came from the one campaign that has convened such faith-based advisory groups.

I would accept such an invitation from the Clinton campaign to be part of its Catholic advisory committee as well, if there were one.

Serving on the Trump-Pence Catholic Advisory Committee answers both the call to defend the faith, life and family, and the call for lay people to participate in the political process.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in its Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship document quote the Second Vatican Council document Gaudium et Spes, (no. 43) saying, “In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.”

The Bishops also cite the Catechism of the Catholic Church (nos. 1913-1915) in Faithful Citizenship to state, “It is necessary that all participate, each according to his position and role, in promoting the common good. This obligation is inherent in the dignity of the human person . . . . As far as possible citizens should take an active part in public life.”

Catholics and other people of faith need to be in the mix and do what we can to see that our voice is heard and our faith is respected. Not only because it’s our right, but also because wherever there is an absence of faith in God, typically the human dignity of all is put at great risk.

Will it make a difference?

Will my one Catholic voice on one advisory committee composed of a few dozen Catholics serving one campaign have an effect in this one election affecting the lives of millions?

As a Catholic who is passionate about my faith and its mission to save souls, I have that hope, but I also know that all I can do is offer my service and previous experience in Catholic journalism and other Church roles to the Committee, in the capacity that one individual can.

So you can bet I will do so to the best of my ability, and it will happen with respect and reverence for the Church’s teaching at the forefront.

The rest is up to God, as it always is.

The Catholic Advisory Committee was assembled as a body to advise the Trump-Pence campaign on issues important to Catholics utilizing our individual experience and knowledge of the Church.

But alongside that task, we have also been asked to pray for Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence, their campaign staff, and the election, with specific, consistent and comprehensive prayer.

It’s refreshing to be asked to pray in the context of a political campaign, and I’m grateful for that aspect of serving on the Catholic Advisory Committee. 

I’m also quite encouraged to see Catholics with whom I correspond online calling en masse for prayer in anticipation of the election.

What better way is there to respond to anything?

No one is beyond possibility of redemption

A lot has been made of the character of both major party candidates in the public arena.

I will say that to make the assumption a person is beyond the redemption of God, even the potential next leader of the free world — provided they are contrite and they repent – it has to come from a place of insufficient trust in God.

All of our leaders — political and religious  — need our prayers all the time, and especially now.

God’s in control, but we have work to do.

Lisa Bourne, a LifeSiteNews journalist, has worked in diocesan communications and journalism for roughly a decade, and performed communications work for the Pennsylvania Catholics’ Network and other Christian denominations as well.  In addition, she has worked in radio and communications for the Knights of Columbus at the state level, and served in leadership and communications for state pro-life groups. Bourne has served on the Foundation Board, Finance Council, Technology Committee, Confirmation Curriculum Committee and chaired the Evangelization Committee at her parish, as well as having served as a cantor and lector for the Basilica of St. John and cantor for various other Des Moines, IA-area parishes. In 2010 she attended the journalist’s seminar “The Church Up Close – Covering Catholicism in the Age of Benedict XVI,” convened by the School of Church Communications at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, Italy.


  2016 presidential election, catholic advisory committee, donald trump, lisa bourne, mike pence

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