ASK FATHER: Is post-election schadenfreude a sin to be confessed?

From a priest…


A simple question that arose for me this week for obvious reasons. Is schadenfreude a sin that should be confessed?

This requires a lot of deep thought, prayer, time to reflect.





No.  In this case, it’s not a sin.  Enjoy!

Meanwhile, everyone should, please, read THIS. By the way, there are lessons in this article, especially towards the end, for what’s going on the in the Church today.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. AM says:

    Be warned (Proverbs 24.17-18) that if you do, God might make the other lot win next time.

  2. juergensen says:

    If it is I will need to confess daily. :)

  3. ach7990 says:


    Perhaps it would be appropriate to link to Dr. Edward Feser’s blog post on this topic:

    Looks like you two agree!

  4. DD says:

    I love that Dr. Feser talks about schadenfreude “big league.”

  5. xgenerationcatholic says:

    I confess that I am not rejoicing anymore. The riots and such are all so disturbing, I’m afraid of it all.

    [Relax. It’s being generated by paid protestors out the pocket of Soros and the Clinton machine. They’ll settle down.]

  6. gracie says:

    The homily at Mass today consisted of the priest saying that pastors had been sent a letter from the USCCB asking them how they were going to deal with the results of the election (did they do that for Obama?). The priest then goes through a litany of messages on his cell phone this morning (his mom, USCCB readings, WQXR program listings) and gets to the important one from a group called the “Safety Pin Movement” which is anti-Trump. The man proceeds to read the message verbatim from his cell phone which he is holding in his hand. The message itself is telling everyone to continue the fight for the disenfranchised (I think that means illegals who can’t vote), and lastly for the LGBTQUI folks. I thought the priest was going to segue way from that to the insight that our safety pin as Christians is the Cross or Christ or something along those lines. Instead, he ended his “homily” with those glorious rainbow letters and then got down off the pulpit to continue with the rest of the Mass. Is wanting to throw a spit ball at the guy a sin, Father?

  7. Giuseppe says:

    I’d caution against schadenfreude. It was a close election. President-Elect Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 68,236 in PA, by 27, 257 in WI, and by 11, 837 in MI. If those 107,330 votes had gone the other way, it would be President-Elect Hillary Clinton with 274 electoral votes. How may people are 107,330 votes? They wouldn’t fill the University of Michigan Football Stadium. (Yes, Hillary lost the Big 10 by less than a stadium full of people.)

    So this election was close. Very close. And if the Democrats nominated Bernie Sanders, those votes (and many more, as Ohio would have been much closer) could well have gone to him. (The Democrats’ biggest mistake was not having a true primary and instead crowning the truly flawed and corrupt Hillary. A primary with Hillary, Sanders, Biden, Warren, Bloomberg, Patrick, Booker, Castro, Webb, O’Malley, Stavridis, Kerry, and Clark, would have been as interesting as the one we saw with the Republicans.)

    I’m tempering gloating knowing that if Hillary had won those three states by flipping 107,000+ votes, that there would be hordes of people (including a straw-haired orange man and the omnipresent Kellyann Conway) claiming that the election was rigged and illegitimate. (I suspect now there will be no claims of voter fraud by secretaries of state in which President-Elect Trump won, whereas there could have been thousands if he lost.)

    So let the protesters protest and vent. They have good points that the character of our president-elect has been wanting throughout the election. (“He’s a pig” flatters ungulates.) However, he has a tremendous opportunity to continue the statesmanesque role he’s trying on these last few days and finding it fitting quite nicely. Let them vent while he grows into the role.

    Don’t gloat, vote. 2018 is just as crucial. If those states do not have manufacturing jobs and if there is no progress on a wall in 2 years, then the Senate can flip pretty easily. For a man who outsourced every manufacturing job he could in his company (and outsourced 2 out of 3 wives – Marla Maples was due to an accidental pregnancy) to bring back manufacturing jobs, as he promised daily in this election, will make or break 2018 and certainly 2020.

    Our standard bearer has spent 70 years being a pretty disgusting man. (I’ve lived in NYC, and New Yorkers dislike the man, even when he was liberal, pro-choice, pro-drugs, pro-promiscuity, pro-Clintons, etc.) I am all into conversion and change, and I pray he will rise to the occasion. I have my doubts, but that’s why there’s hope.

  8. Giuseppe says:

    Re. the riots being generated by Soros and the Clinton machine, I doubt this. I was in NYC this weekend, and got caught up in the march from Union Square to 56th Street on 5th Avenue yesterday. I don’t think anyone there was funded, inspired, or told to go there by Soros or Clinton. I chatted with a few people. The signs looked hand-made, and many people seemed to be spontaneously joining on various streets (I had to walk 8 blocks to find a safe place to cross, since I had to get to the East Side.) These are the left’s version of what would have happened if President-Elect Trump won the popular vote and lost the electoral college by 108,000 votes in 3 states. The right’s version would have been claims of rigged elections, and maybe shows of force in support of the second amendment.

    President-Elect Trump should make a speech within the next week which
    1) praises the Latino contribution to America – the values of hard work, of caring for their families, of belief in God, of devotion to their churches, of helping us connect with the rest of the continent
    2) praises those who fled oppressive regimes LEGALLY and those who came here LEGALLY or who came ambiguously but sought political asylum through LEGAL means
    3) clarifies that those of Puerto Rican background are already American and US citizens as well as millions of other Latinos who are already US citizens. Latino does not equal illegal.
    4) reminds us all that America is a melting pot, and that our forefathers came here at a time where there were no or few immigration restrictions, but that restrictions are a necessity now given concerns about overpopulation and national security. Porous borders are catnip to ISIS and other groups.
    5) reassures all that he and others have no hatred toward Mexicans, our most populous neighbor, and even Indiana-born judges of Mexican descent
    6) clarifies that while he admires any father or mother’s drive to go to another country to better provide for your family at home, that he as president MUST protect the border and our homeland, and that people cannot just come here freely, but must have specific reasons, and from countries where there are concerns, might need to be more closely vetted before travel is allowed
    7) reassures that those who have been living here illegally will have their cases heard in due time. That those who committed crimes will be deported. That those who did not will have their case attended to later. (I do think that all here prior to 2016 and who have no criminal records should be given 3 years to pay all back taxes, pay a $1000 fine to go to the “wall fund”, and should be given citizenship. They will be Trump/Republican voters for life.)

    I would personally like to see him renew the Obama administration’s executive orders on the DACA (Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals – the kids who came here as young kids and who have only known the US as their home – the so-called ‘dreamers’). I think making them and their parents citizens would be a tremendously welcoming gesture, and could solidify the Mexican and Central Americans in the US as future Republicans for generations.

    Donald Trump is a negotiator. His positions are opening bids in a dialogue.

    But who am I to judge?

  9. iamlucky13 says:

    “Relax. It’s being generated by paid protestors out the pocket of Soros and the Clinton machine. They’ll settle down.”

    I don’t quite agree. Not that I can be certain there aren’t paid rioters out there. It’s just that I lived in Portland, OR for several years. The majority down there (and in many other cities) is genuinely convinced racism and misogyny are the only possible explanation for this election outcome. As a result, they feel compelled to act out against that boogeyman. And among them are the usual extremists who are looking for an excuse to riot and destroy what others have built up.

  10. un-ionized says:

    Iamlucky13, The protesters and rioters here are students at the university. The same people who publicly bait people with whom they assume they disagree. Though this area is heavily republican there were very few bumper stickers to that effect, out of fear of retaliation. My friends were unanimous about that.

  11. Charivari Rob says:

    Some measure of glee and/or relief that Hillary didn’t win is justifiable – both in the immediate prospects for our country as well as the faint hope that it might shock the Democratic party into running more realistic candidates in the future.

    Schadenfreude? I’ll confess to some. After all, HRC and the Democratic Party elite receiving their comeuppance after the way they’ve operated? Very tempting to crow.

    The other side of the coin, however, is that Trump DID win, which is almost as much of a problem as it would have been if HRC had won. He said a lot of ugly, hateful things in the course of his campaign (it’s possible to have conservative positions on immigration & refugees, etc… without being hateful – but he didn’t appear to make that effort).

    There are people who fear what injustices “Donald Trump’s America” might mean for them. They might not be likely or realistic fears, but they are felt honestly. Fear cannot necessarily be easily enumerated, weighed and discounted.

    The point being is there is some degree of obligation of compassion and charity towards others’ fears – whether we share them or not.

  12. Semper Gumby says:

    Speaking of Portland, on Nov. 10 the Interfaith Council of Greater Portland rallied at the Pioneer Courthouse Square to “seize the high ground of peace and inclusion.” Rabbi Ariel Stone said, “we will never stop affirming that love trumps hate.” Next, a prayer to the Celtic goddess Brigid was offered by T. Thorne Coyle. Then pagans such as Sister Krissy, Raven Stanfield, Blaedfyr, and Crow Walker joined her in solidarity. The pro-pagan blog that reported this also mentioned the presence of (shades of Fr. Z’s humor here) Rev. Tara Wilkins of the Community of Welcoming Congregations.

    Curiously, according to the Portland Mercury, at the exact same time and place as the ICGP rally there was also a rally for “Portland’s Resistance.”

    Interesting article by Williamson. His remarks about what Democrats were up to before the election brings to mind the activities of one esoteric group. As reported on a pro-pagan blog, on Oct. 29 in Burlington VT the group “Feminists Against Trump,” led by Vermont college professors, held a “witch-in.” And, with a flair for words probably possessed only by feminist Vermont professors, they contacted international Wiccan and pagan groups to join in a “mass hexing” to “cast magical spells of love and feminism to destroy the Great Orange One.”

    Hmmm….spells of love to destroy the Great Orange One. As the classic line from Blazing Saddles goes: Who can argue with logic like that.

  13. Ben Kenobi says:

    And there we go. Trump comes out and calls Obergefell “settled law”. Wonderful. Now we have zero parties that support traditional marriage :(

  14. pfreddys says:

    I am reminded of the 80s when we had Ronald Reagan and a full republican congress. I was convinced that abortion on demand would be a nightmare of the past. So I waited and waited and waited and NOTHING HAPPENED.

  15. jhayes says:

    On 60 Minutes tonight, President-Elect Trump gave his views on Roe v Wade and Same Sex Marriage:

    Lesley Stahl: During the campaign, you said that you would appoint justices who were against abortion rights. Will you appoint– are you looking to appoint a justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade?

    Donald Trump: So look, here’s what’s going to happen– I’m going to– I’m pro-life. The judges will be pro-life. They’ll be very—

    Lesley Stahl: But what about overturning this law–

    Donald Trump: Well, there are a couple of things. They’ll be pro-life, they’ll be– in terms of the whole gun situation, we know the Second Amendment and everybody’s talking about the Second Amendment and they’re trying to dice it up and change it, they’re going to be very pro-Second Amendment. But having to do with abortion if it ever were overturned, it would go back to the states. So it would go back to the states and–

    Lesley Stahl: Yeah, but then some women won’t be able to get an abortion?

    Donald Trump: No, it’ll go back to the states.

    Lesley Stahl: By state—no some —

    Donald Trump: Yeah.

    Donald Trump: Yeah, well, they’ll perhaps have to go, they’ll have to go to another state.

    Lesley Stahl: And that’s OK?

    Donald Trump: Well, we’ll see what happens. It’s got a long way to go, just so you understand. That has a long, long way to go.


    Lesley Stahl: One of the groups that’s expressing fear are the LGBTQ group. You–

    Donald Trump: And yet I mentioned them at the Republican National Convention. And–

    Lesley Stahl: You did.

    Donald Trump: Everybody said, “That was so great.” I have been, you know, I’ve been-a supporter.

    Lesley Stahl: Well, I guess the issue for them is marriage equality. Do you support marriage equality?

    Donald Trump: It– it’s irrelevant because it was already settled. It’s law. It was settled in the Supreme Court. I mean it’s done.

    Lesley Stahl: So even if you appoint a judge that–

    Donald Trump: It’s done. It– you have– these cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And, I’m fine with that.

  16. gracie says:

    Ben Kenobi,

    Obergefell is settled law. Trump is correct in saying that. As the President-elect, he can’t very well say anything else. It certainly isn’t anything he can overturn by executive order.

    Obergefell could be overturned by a Constitutional Amendment, of course (think Dred Scott). Also, there could be new Supreme Court decisions that could make Obergefell mute, even if it’s still on the books. What Mr. Trump can do is to appoint Supreme Court Justices who believe in the natural law. That would go a long way to fixing this mess.

  17. CrimsonCatholic says:

    Ben Kenobi,

    He can’t do anything about Supreme Court cases. For a different ruling on the case, a new case would need to be brought to the federal courts. Two federal courts would need to have conflicting rulings for the case to go back to the Supreme Court. That has nothing to do with Trump.

  18. Michael_Thoma says:

    I don’t have much trust that Trump is anything more than a typical NY/Chicago Republican. Bloombergesque. Maybe if folks like Gingrich, Pence, or Ryan can control his vision, there’s a chance that all that campaign rhetoric will be kept. Chances are his kids are left of center on most issues, especially social, and they will have a huge sway.

  19. Pingback: Post-Election Day in America Monday Edition | Big Pulpit

  20. Chris Rawlings says:

    Tonight Donald Trump basically said he’s “fine” with gay marriage. The only ones who could plausibly feel schadenfreude are those who warned that Hillary and Trump are not especially distinct in their social views. If you voted for Trump because you opposed Hillary’s bad social liberalism, schadenfreude is not an emotion you should be experiencing.

  21. Gratias says:

    I am very, very happy we avoided the evil Clintons. It is a historical moment for US and for the world, because the USA is a force for good. If you want social justice in remote nations what you need is 4% growth in the good ole USA, for a rising tide lifts all boats. I am delighted that the brutal partial birth abortion will face opposition, that Churches will not be forced to perform Homosexual marriages, that the repeal of the Lyndon Johnson amendment will restore liberty to preaching from the pulpit, that the Little Sisters of the Poor will nor be required for abortifacients for others, Obamacare will be repealed, that education will be local, and that unconstitutional Executive Amnesty programs will be gone with a stroke of the pen. But above all I am delighted by the appointment of many Supreme Judges that will follow the Constitution as written. The closeness of this election in so many states: Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan suggests to me that the hand of God was in it. God has spared us another era of gray skies over the fruited plains of our beloved Nation. The Globalist New World Order will be set back many years. Yippee ay yay!


  22. Geoffrey says:

    Okay, I am man enough to admit that I had to look up the word “schadenfreude”!

    Trump was never going to be the Catholic candidate, but Clinton was definitely the anti-Catholic candidate.

  23. JonPatrick says:

    Michael_Thoma, a typical New York/Chicago Republican would want open borders (to keep wages down) and free trade (to insure jobs can be outsourced to the lowest cost location). Yes he is Bloombergesque on the social issues although I do believe he will appoint pro-life SC judges, but not so on the economic issues.

  24. un-ionized says:

    As for settled law, yes, he is correct. For Supreme Court decisions to be rendered moot (not mute) will require something else to happen, such as legislation, which itself would be subject to challenge. And I realize I have misused the term “moot” which has two different specific meanings.

  25. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Five bishops (Dolan, O’Malley, Chaput, Gomez, and Cupich) have banned me from their Facebook pages or other comboxes for asking why they constantly agitate for No Borders when immigrants vote 70-80% pro-abortion.

    Only a handful of American bishops deny Communion to pro-abortion katholyks, despite the fact that each and every time Canon 915 is ignored, it is grave matter. But what sort of fool would refuse to commit a mortal sin if doing so might result in criticism?

  26. Pcito says:

    I spoke with my mon, who made this observation: “Isn’t it such a blessing that as the Year of Mercy ends, God showed us mercy through the election of Donald Trump?”

    Who wants to give that spin on things to the Pope? :-D

    Padre P

  27. Semper Gumby says:

    Giuseppe wrote: “Re. the riots being generated by Soros and the Clinton machine, I doubt this…I don’t think anyone there was funded, inspired, or told to go there by Soros or Clinton.”

    Your doubt and anecdotal observation are fair. Probably, some of these protests and protesters are indeed local and “organic,” spontaneously reacting to, say, Twitter. That said, here is a brief list for further Soros/Clinton research if you are interested:

    -Democracy Alliance
    -Open Society Foundation
    -Robert Creamer and Scott Foval

    For comparison, see the Occupy Wall Street movement and: Tides Foundation, MoveOn, AdBusters. Also see some of the anti-Trump protests earlier in 2016 and media reporting on Craigslist ads for hired protesters.

    Esoteric groups (see for example my comment here yesterday), also have goals similar to those of Soros and Clinton.

  28. chris_R says:

    I would watch the schadenfreude — Trump isn’t “elected” yet — the Electoral College does that. Somebody gets to those electors and overthrows the process (don’t forget, we have bullies with clubs, figuratively or literally, here) then the schadenfreude is schaden-kaput. Will the electors do the right thing, or are the Clintons merely hanging in the background, waiting for it all to collapse, not worried in the slightest. They not afraid of us at all.

    I did hear of ads for paid protestors on Craig’s List. Don’t know if legit or a scam. Pretty decent pay — bring your own protest materials and be prepared to hike around country on bus. I know some of the poor folks in Ferguson noted outsiders doing most of the damage. It’s all to get attention and destabilize things. Remember, these people are about shoving things down your throat. They don’t go away easily.

  29. leon says:

    Or, do the Catholic 45% need to go to confession?

  30. Pingback: Father Z “Post Election Schadenfreude Not a Sin” (in this Case). | To our bodies turn we then

  31. Bill F says:


    That could be because full Republican control of Congress never happened during the Reagan years. Republicans had the Senate for the first six years of Reagan’s presidency, but lost it the last two; the Democrats controlled the House from 1955 to 1995, from Ike to Clinton, with a rather large majority during Reagan’s terms. Sadly, no way pro-life legislation was getting off the ground in that climate.

  32. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Following on from gracie, CrimsonCatholic, and un-ionized re. “It’s done. It– you have– these cases have gone to the Supreme Court. They’ve been settled. And, I’m fine with that.”

    Might this be, umm… ‘Jesuitical’, in a good sense? (Saying true things, but prudently not saying everything true that might be said, or one is thinking and intending?)

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