Published: February 25, 2016
Of all the nonsensical and ridiculous things Donald Trump has said over the course of this campaign, one of his most recent statements has to be my favorite. Last week, Trump called Pope Francis “disgraceful” and denounced the Holy Father as “a pawn” for the Mexican government.
This verbal attack did not come without provocation; one could say that the Pope fired the first shots. In a conference during his visit to Mexico last week, Pope Francis was asked by a reporter whether Catholics should vote for Trump for the GOP nomination, to which he replied, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” according to a Feb. 18 New York Times article.
While harsh, the Pope’s statement is not unfair. The Catholic Church has an open position on immigration and shelter for refugees. Trump is Presbyterian, not Catholic; however, this should not make a significant difference. Christianity has a longstanding connection to these topics, perhaps most notably in the Gospel stories involving Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus fleeing to Egypt to escape King Herod’s decree of death to all Jewish baby boys. Catholicism is still Christianity, and the Pope has the authority to speak about such matters and interpret religious teachings.
Regardless, Trump disagrees, which I find to be amusing for several reasons. The first reason is that just days before this exchange began, Trump stated on Sirius XM’s “Breitbart News Daily” that “I respect the Pope, and I love the Pope in many ways. I love what he stands for.” Apparently Trump’s love and respect are conditional and limited at best. Have you forgotten, Mr. Trump, Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees for saying one thing, but doing another in Matthew 23? Your actions seem rather inconsistent.
The second reason I am amused is because Trump is denouncing one of the most peaceful and holy men in the world, but offers his praise and approval to violent and dangerous leaders such as Vladimir Putin and Saddam Hussein. I am not even going to attempt to figure that one out.
Finally, I am perhaps most amused that Mr. Trump is insisting on arguing the essence of Christianity with the man who is literally the authority on all things Catholic. Mr. Trump, you may say whatever you wish, but you are fighting a battle that you simply cannot win. You claim you are a Christian, but your words and actions suggest otherwise (again, Matthew 23).
Pope Francis, diplomatic as ever, responded to Mr. Trump’s accusations by saying, “So at least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn, well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people.” In my humble, nonprofessional opinion, it is quite clear who the real Christian in this battle is.
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