Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia accused the press of being too hostile to President Donald J. Trump and of “very deliberately” maligning religious faith during a radio interview on Monday.
“The elite, of course, kind of pooh-pooh religious faith,” the archbishop said during the radio program hosted by conservative pundit Hugh Hewitt. “It’s important for us not to desire to be a part of that elite to the point that we give up our faith.”
Promoting his new book Strangers in a Strange Land, the archbishop responded agreeably to Mr. Hewitt’s guess that fewer than one in four journalists in the mainstream press held religious beliefs.
“Well, it looks that way. It certainly is a contrast to the vast majority of people in our country who really are believers,” Archbishop Chaput replied. “Maybe confused believers, but nonetheless believers.”
He also commented on press coverage that has been critical of Mr. Trump, saying it is more intense than what former President Barack Obama endured.
“It’s just amazing to me how hostile the press is to everything that the president does,” the archbishop said. “I don’t want to be partisan in my comments here, but it seems to me if we really are serious about our common responsibilities as citizens, we support the president whether we accept everything he stands for or not and wish him success rather than trying to undermine him.”
“It’s just amazing to me how hostile the press is to everything that the president does,” Archbishop Chaput said.
Mr. Trump has repeatedly denounced the media, using his personal Twitter account to call out reporters and media outlets for what he claims are biased reports, even dubbing The New York Times and CNN “fake news.”
“We can clearly disagree with him and I think it’s important to do that, especially on issues that count, you know, moral issues,” the archbishop continued. “Nonetheless it’s important for us to at least hope for success so that our country can come to a better place.”
Archbishop Chaput was a vocal critic of both Mr. Trump and his challenger, Hillary Clinton, in the run-up to the November election and he has kept up the heat on Mr. Trump over the president’s immigration policies and refugee ban.
Still, he urged the University of Notre Dame to extend an invitation to Mr. Trump to speak at commencement, an honor usually given to new presidents but one that the school’s president suggested may not be bestowed on Mr. Trump. He also praised the Trump administration’s “apparent sympathy for some key pro-life concerns,” pointing to the president’s promise to defund Planned Parenthood.
Responding to a question about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, who sided with the Little Sisters of the Poor in a federal lawsuit against the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, the archbishop said he was encouraged by the nomination.
But he offered a generally grim view of government, saying that it views the church and the family as competition to be eliminated.
“The government, as it grows, doesn’t want any kind of competition, and competition of course are mediating groups like the church [and] more importantly, the family,” he said. “The government likes to make sure that it makes the final decision and nothing stands in the way, so it has some vested interest as it grows in eliminating the influence of the church and the family.”
During the interview, the archbishop agreed with Mr. Hewitt’s assertion that Mr. Trump is facing intense resistance from “the elites,” who he said are trying “to destroy” the president, comparing it to how Pope Benedict XVI was characterized by “the left” at the start of his pontificate.
“I think that’s right,” the archbishop said.
He conceded that “the right has shown the same kind of hostility” to former President Barack Obama, though he said the criticism Mr. Obama faced was “to a lesser degree” than what Mr. Trump faces today.
The former president was the subject of a years-long smear campaign, fueled by Mr. Trump, which claimed that the first African-American president was not born in the United States. Despite his public statements about his Christian faith, many of Mr. Obama’s opponents also alleged that he secretly believed in Islam.
Still, the archbishop said that the nation “really has to change in terms of working together” and longed for the 1950s when, he said, “there was a real sense of that. People who disagreed with others seriously still wished for common success, and that seems to have disappeared altogether now.”