Published: February 25, 2016
In the days leading up to the South Carolina primary, a back-and-forth very much involved in the presidential race emerged, but not between candidates. Donald Trump and Pope Francis exchanged jabs at each other.
Knowing Francis was in Mexico at the time, Trump criticized him for being involved in political issues such as immigration.
When asked about Trump’s comments, Francis responded by referencing Aristotle’s belief that humans are political animals. At least, he suggested, Trump thinks he is human.
“And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not a Christian,” Francis continued. “This is not in the Gospel.”
Trump, upon hearing these comments, sounded off in response.
“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” Trump said. “I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President.”
The tension between Trump and Francis in these comments is tangible.
As with many of his controversial comments during his campaign, Trump seems to have escaped unscathed, winning the South Carolina primary by a commanding margin.
In this case as in any controversy, some people support Trump, others support Francis, and still others support neither. How, then, do students on campus feel about the issue?
According to a survey of University students, opinions were mixed. Prior to taking the survey, 82.7 percent of respondents were at least generally aware of the exchange. Upon being apprised of the comments, 70.8 percent of responding students said they support Pope Francis, while 22.2 percent of students said they support Donald Trump. The remaining students said they support neither Pope Francis nor Donald Trump in their comments.
Political party did not seem to make a difference; 35.2 percent of respondents identify as Republican, 35.2 percent as Democrat, and 29.6 percentas Independent.
One student, who does not support either Trump or Francis, offered his opinion on the matter.
“I actually kind of find the whole thing to be silly. On the Pope’s side, he is the head of the Christian community and it’s the head calling out one of the members of the community” said Vince Barcinas, a sophomore chemistry major. “With Trump, he kind of has to operate more on what the people voted him in for.”
There seems to be some validity to the statements both men made towards each other. In accordance with the words of Francis, certainly the Gospel focuses on bringing people together as a community of God rather than separating them with walls.
Trump, however, makes a reasonable argument that only he knows what he believes, and no one else should question his religious beliefs.
Were the words of both men too harsh, or does one of them stand above the other as correct? Ultimately, that is for each individual to decide for himself or herself as the controversy unfolds.
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