Meet Bishop John Stowe, the Kentucky Catholic and blistering Trump critic who called the president ‘anti-life’

If President Donald Trump succeeds in ramming a far-right U.S. Supreme Court nominee through the U.S. Senate before Election Day — and it appears that he has enough Republican votes in the Senate to do exactly that — he will be offering a giant dose of red meat to his white evangelical anti-abortion Christian right base. But it’s important to remember that Trump is by no means universally loved among Christians, and in Kentucky — where Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is seeking reelection — one of Trump’s vocal critics has been Bishop John Stowe of the Diocese of Lexington.

Stowe is against abortion, but as he sees it, being “pro-life” goes way beyond that issue. And on many issues, the Catholic bishop has stressed, Trump demonstrates that he doesn’t value human life.

During a live video chat with the International Catholic Movement for Intellectual and Cultural Affairs in late July, Stowe argued, “For this president to call himself pro-life — and for anybody to back him because of claims of being pro-life — is almost willful ignorance. He is so much anti-life because he is only concerned about himself, and he gives us every, every, every indication of that.”

Stowe has been arguing that Trump falls short of being “pro-life” on many other issues and that abortion is by no means the only issue Christian voters should be concerned about.

“Pope Francis has given us a great definition of what pro-life means,” Stowe said during that International Catholic Movement discussion. “He basically tells us we can’t claim to be pro-life if we support the separation of children from their parents at the U.S. border, if we support exposing people at the border to COVID-19 because of the facilities that they’re in, if we support denying people who have need (of) adequate health care access to health care. If we keep people from getting the housing or the education that they need, we cannot call ourselves pro-life.”

When discussing the abortion issue, Stowe sounds somewhat like former Vice President Joe Biden — a Catholic whose record could be described as pro-choice but anti-abortion. Biden opposes overturning Roe v. Wade, but he has said that he views being “pro-life” as much more than being opposed to abortion.

Stowe was also highly critical of Trump in an op-ed he wrote for the Lexington Herald Ledger in January 2019, saying, “While the (Catholic) Church’s opposition to abortion has been steadfast, it has become a stand-alone issue for many and has become disconnected to other issues of human dignity.”

Stowe emphasized in that op-ed that Trump’s opposition to abortion isn’t good enough — the president also needs to tackle issues like “racism” and poverty.

“We cannot uncritically ally ourselves with someone with whom we share the policy goal of ending abortion,” Stowe declared.