Donald Trump courts Catholic voters after Pope snubbed Mike Pompeo

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President Donald Trump will court Catholic voters amid a feud with the church when he and Democratic rival Joe Biden address the Al Smith dinner Thursday night.

The two presidential contenders are sending video taped remarks after the 75th annual dinner that benefits Catholic charities has gone virtual due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Trump’s remarks come after Pope Francis refused to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo amid tensions between the administration and the Catholic church over the Vatican’s plans to renew an agreement with the Chinese government on Church operations in that country. 

Trump, in excerpts of his remarks released by the White House, will praise the Catholic community for its work during the coronavirus pandemic. 

This year’s dinner is dedicated to the essential workers who kept the city running and cared for the sick during COVID.

‘As President, I want to thank the Catholic community for the magnificent generosity you showed in America’s hour of need,’ he will tell the attendees, which includes Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

‘From the very beginning of our republic, Catholics have uplifted and enriched our nation beyond measure,’ Trump will add.

President Donald Trump

Democratic rival Joe Biden

President Donald Trump and Democratic rival Joe Biden will send in taped remarks to the annual Alfred Smith dinner for Catholic charities on Thursday night

Trump's remarks come amid tension with his administration and the Vatican. Above, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich meet with Vatican Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Trump’s remarks come amid tension with his administration and the Vatican. Above, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich meet with Vatican Secretary of State Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin 

Pope Francis, meeting with Germany's Armin Laschet, declined to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Rome

Pope Francis, meeting with Germany’s Armin Laschet, declined to meet with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during his visit to Rome

He will also tout his nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Barrett is a Catholic and Trump has warned Democrats not to make her faith an issue during the confirmation process.  

‘As President, one of my top priorities is to defend religious liberty and the cherished role of faith and faith-based organizations in our national life,’ he will say. ‘To protect your God-given rights, I was recently honored to nominate one of our most brilliant legal minds, Judge Amy Coney Barrett, to the United States Supreme Court.’

And he will brag that ‘few institutions in history have done more for New York, more for America, or more for people of the world than the Catholic Church.’

His remarks come as Pompeo was on a two-day trip to Rome where he sat down the Apostolic Palace with his Vatican counterpart, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher. 

Pope Francis declined to meet with Pompeo to avoid any suggestion of political favoritism ahead of the American election.

The pope ‘clearly said that he does not receive political figures ahead of the elections,’ Parolin told reporters. 

Before his visit Pompeo wrote an essay for a conservative magazine and tweeted a link. In it, he suggested the church had hurt its moral authority by working with Chinese officials. 

‘The Vatican endangers its moral authority, should it renew the deal,’ the secretary of state wrote. 

Parolin said Pompeo’s essay caused ‘surprise’ at the Vatican. 

‘We had a constructive discussion,’ Pompeo said after the meeting, ‘We have a shared objective. The Chinese Communist Party is behaving in ways that are reminiscent of what´s only happened in centuries past in terms of human rights violations. We´ve watched them oppress not only Muslim Uighurs but Christians, Catholics, Falun Gong, people of all faiths.

‘I know that the Catholic Church, the Vatican, the Holy See all care about these issues deeply,’ Pompeo told Fox News. ‘We´ve urged them to take a stronger view, to express their moral witness against these depredations that are taking place there in China.’

He shrugged off the Pope not meeting with him and suggested it was a scheduling conflict. 

‘Oh, he’s a busy man. We scheduled this a little bit late. He doesn’t always meet with foreign ministers too,’ Pompeo said. 

Meanwhile, Biden, a devout Catholic, recorded his remarks at The Queen in downtown Wilmington on Thursday afternoon. If he wins in November, Biden will be the second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy.

President Trump, in his remarks, will tout his nomination of the Catholic Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court

President Trump, in his remarks, will tout his nomination of the Catholic Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court

The Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairs the annual fundraising dinner

The Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairs the annual fundraising dinner

Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, recorded his remarks to the dinner at The Queen in downtown Wilmington on Thursday afternoon. If he wins in November, Biden will be the second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy

Joe Biden, a devout Catholic, recorded his remarks to the dinner at The Queen in downtown Wilmington on Thursday afternoon. If he wins in November, Biden will be the second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy

The Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, commonly known as the Al Smith Dinner, is an annual white tie dinner to raise funds for Catholic charities supporting children of various needs in the Archdiocese of New York.

Held on the third Thursday of October and named after Al Smith, who was Governor of New York four times and the first Catholic nominated as the Democratic candidate for the United States in the 1928 presidential election.

The dinner attracts an A+ guest list and it’s traditional for the two presidential candidates to share its stage before the November election.

This year’s dinner is virtual due to the COVID pandemic. It will originate from multiple locations, with Cardinal Dolan presiding from the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture in Manhattan and opera singer Nadine Sierra performing the National Anthem from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The evening is meant to be light hearted with the political candidates poking gentle fun at themselves in each other.

Trump floated that in 2016 when he made several attacks on his then rival Hillary Clinton, who was seated two seats away from him on the dais.  He called Clinton ‘corrupt’ and accusing her of ‘pretending not to hate Catholics.’

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