The Donald or The Francis?

 

From the front page of the New York Times online at this very hour:

ABOARD THE PAPAL AIRLINER — Inserting himself into the Republican presidential race, Pope Francis on Wednesday suggested that Donald J. Trump“is not Christian” because of the harshness of his campaign promises to deport more immigrants and force Mexico to pay for a wall along the border.

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said when a reporter asked him about Mr. Trump on the papal airliner as he returned to Rome after his six-day visit to Mexico.

Getting hit with this for the first time as we were recording the Ricochet Podcast this morning, I responded squeamishly (to the immense amusement of our house Episcopalian, Rob Long), arguing that I owe fidelity to the Supreme pontiff only on matters of faith and morals–which is, of course, strictly true, but didn’t quite solve my problem.

We Catholics owe the pope a certain respect –he is, after all, the head of the oldest institution on earth and the direct heir, in unbroken apostolic succession, of St. Peter himself. But how — how — do we maintain even a patina of reverence when the man insists on becoming intensely political (as when, during his visit to Mexico, he went to the border to denounce this country’s immigration policy), when he says things that are simply unfounded (as when he claims we face an environmental apocalypse), and when he says things that are — well, that are just foolish (as in his attack on The Donald this morning. Has the pontiff ever noticed the walls that surround the Vatican?)

As I say, all this makes me squeamish — and I hereby throw it open to discussion to my friends here on Ricochet, in particular my wise fellow Catholics. Joseph Stanko? katievs? Are you there?

Published in Immigration, Religion & Philosophy
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  1. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    You raise good questions and sadly they are not new to this forum.

    I think deep down he is a humble and charitable man.

    I have no interest in litigating this out of respect for Katie, Joseph and other Catholic Brothers and Sisters here.

    • #1
  2. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    So the pope does fly in a papal airplane!

    • #2
  3. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    There isn’t much reason to think the Pope was referring to Trump specifically. A reporter asked him a question about the building of a wall and the pope answered it, maybe in his usual careless and straight forward way. Trump then decided that he was attacked by the Pope (who I’m sure probably doesn’t even know who Trump is) and decided to make political hay out of the Pontiffs remarks. You are playing into Trumps filthy hands, for shame.

    • #3
  4. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    He didn’t opine on American politics; he explicitly refused to do so. Below is the full exchange; the press has been carefully spiking the question and stripping the Pope’s answer of context by only printing carefully selected parts. The Los Angeles Times and Fox NewsSpecial Report are the only sources I’ve found with the integrity to provide the whole exchange. Emphasis added because even where those words are included in the selective excerpts, they’re ignored in the pseudo-analysis of them.

    Q: Today you spoke a lot and eloquently about the problem of immigrants. On the other side of the border there is an electoral campaign that is rather hard. One of the candidates for the White House, Donald Trump, in a recent interview said that you are a political man, and indeed perhaps a pawn of the Mexican Government when it comes to the policy of immigration. He said that if he were elected president he would build a 2,500-km wall along the border. He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants and, in that way separating families and so on. I would therefore like to ask, first of all, what you think of those charges against you, and if an American Catholic could vote for a person like this?

    A: Thank God he said I am a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as an ‘animal politicus’ [a political animal]. 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 judgement and that of the people. And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the gospel. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he says things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.

    It’s interesting to note that at the outset the pressman tried to set the Pope up with a loaded question whose center was an outright lie. Trump is on record as not wanting to separate families and so on for all that he’s also on record as wanting to deport 11 million illegal aliens. In answer, the Pope heavily caveated his remarks about wall building and plainly expressed his doubts of whether Trump actually had said these things. His remarks about the degree of Christianity of a man who would say such things also are plainly predicated on whether the comments actually exist. He explicitly limited himself to the moral question and refused to involve himself in politics.

    There are two who should take more care to understand the situation: Trump in his response to the press’ dishonest reporting of the initial situation, and the press and others who misrepresent the remarks or repeat the distortions as though they were true.

    Eric Hines

    Edited to put the Answer in italics, also.

    • #4
  5. The Cloaked Gaijin Member
    The Cloaked Gaijin
    @TheCloakedGaijin

    Don’t worry.  He was probably referring to Israel…

    • #5
  6. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    In paragraph 2241 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church we see that the Church recognizes the rights of nations to control their borders and places conditions on the legal migrant with respect to the laws and culture of the welcoming country. In responding to the question asked, it would have been diplomatic and pastoral for the Holy Father to have said something along these lines. Instead, he made a personal attack (albeit with a reference to giving the benefit of the doubt). I respectively submit the Holy Father could have handled this better.

    By the way, there are two posts over on the member feed where this is being discussed.

    • #6
  7. Jules PA Inactive
    Jules PA
    @JulesPA

    Peter Robinson: Donald J. Trump“is not Christian”

    Wasn’t it the Pope who said, “Who is he to judge?”

    • #7
  8. Carol Member
    Carol
    @

    Valiuth:There isn’t much reason to think the Pope was referring to Trump specifically. A reporter asked him a question about the building of a wall and the pope answered it, maybe in his usual careless and straight forward way. Trump then decided that he was attacked by the Pope (who I’m sure probably doesn’t even know who Trump is) and decided to make political hay out of the Pontiffs remarks. You are playing into Trumps filthy hands, for shame.

    I think the questioner specifically referred to the presidential race and candidates who want to build a wall. I don’t know if Trump was mentioned by name.

    Edit – never mind- I see I was mistaken

    • #8
  9. BD Member
    BD
    @

    Does anyone know who asked this loaded-with-bias question?

    • #9
  10. Jordan Wiegand Inactive
    Jordan Wiegand
    @Jordan

    Is “Avignon Papacy” an option?

    I’ve about had it with this Pope and his bulls.

    • #10
  11. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Valiuth:There isn’t much reason to think the Pope was referring to Trump specifically. A reporter asked him a question about the building of a wall and the pope answered it, maybe in his usual careless and straight forward way. Trump then decided that he was attacked by the Pope (who I’m sure probably doesn’t even know who Trump is) and decided to make political hay out of the Pontiffs remarks. You are playing into Trumps filthy hands, for shame.

    This isn’t so, alas. The Pope was asked about Trump, by name. He responded, in part, “I only say that this man [a direct reference to Trump] is not Christian if he says things like that [a reference to Trump’s call for a wall on the border; yes, he says things like that.] It pains me to say so–Lord, does it–but Trump was right. The Pope questioned his sincerity as a Christian. There may have been the usual sweetness about Francis as he said it, but he said it. By any ordinary standard, that was an attack.

    • #11
  12. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    I’ve come to the conclusion that the Pope is not a very intelligent person. Or just an ignorant person. That’s the most charitable explanation for the things he says. I think he truly does not understand that there are alternative views on things like global warming. How else do you explain his apparent condemnation of the widespread use of air conditioning? And that there are good arguments against open borders. So he then understandably concludes that those who seem to disagree with him do so for reasons that are selfish or un-Christian.

    And Eric, he said that Trump wasn’t a Christian if he said certain things, but those things were words that the Pope himself conveniently imagined him saying…building walls and not bridges. So he was implicitly suggesting that wall builders are necessarily not bridge builders and therefore not Christian. Sort of a straw man implication.

    • #12
  13. Peter Robinson Contributor
    Peter Robinson
    @PeterRobinson

    Scott Wilmot:I respectively submit the Holy Father could have handled this better.

    Very nicely put. As the say in Congress, I’d like to associate myself with your remarks.

    • #13
  14. Scott Wilmot Member
    Scott Wilmot
    @ScottWilmot

    Edward Peters (a canon lawyer) has some insightful comments here.

    • #14
  15. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I’m so sorry that you and all my Catholic friends are being put in this awkward position. It does appear that he is intentionally being political, and I don’t think he realizes the dilemma he creates for his followers. I wonder if anyone close to him (and I imagine this would be extremely difficult and awkward) has advised him on the impact of his words. Certainly as an individual he is entitled to hold whatever beliefs  he chooses–but promoting them? These incidents are unfortunate.

    • #15
  16. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Addiction Is A Choice:So the pope does fly in a papal airplane!

    Sort of.  He doesn’t own it, though, it’s a rental:

    The President flies on Air Force One. The Pope flies on “Shepherd One.”

    That’s the Federal Aviation-approved call sign for the Boeing 777 in which he’ll be traveling around the United States, according to an official from American Airlines, which will be operating the plane.

    The papal seal will also be affixed to the side of the aircraft, the only major modification that’s planned. However, the flight number will be blocked per a Secret Service request, so the public won’t be able to track its progress.

    Once Francis wraps up his Washington visit and returns to Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday to head to New York, he’ll ditch the Alitalia jetliner he’s been on and pick up the American Airlines plane.

    Air traffic control officials will use the name “Shepherd One” when speaking to the American Airlines captain flying the plane.

    It’s become customary for the Pope to fly on and return home from official visits on the flag carrier of the country he has toured.

    The Pope’s aircraft, chartered by the U.S. Conference of Bishops, will fly Francis from Andrews to John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York and then to Philadelphia International Airport before carrying the pope back to Rome at the end of his first U.S. visit.

    • #16
  17. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Peter Robinson: He responded, in part, “I only say that this man [a direct reference to Trump] is not Christian if he says things like that [a reference to Trump’s call for a wall on the border; yes, he says things like that.]

    Just to be clear, Peter, in the question he was asked “things like that” including building a wall and deporting 11 million illegal immigrants and separating families in the process.

    • #17
  18. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Jules PA:

    Peter Robinson: Donald J. Trump“is not Christian”

    Wasn’t it the Pope who said, “Who is he to judge?”

    Yeah, but only on gays. Want to maintain your sovereignty and enforce your immigration laws? Heathen.

    By the way, while he was busy in Mexico condemning the very notion of an American border, did he also have not-nice things to say about Mexico’s southern border, which is strictly guarded and laws ruthlessly enforced? No?

    • #18
  19. Eric Hines Inactive
    Eric Hines
    @EricHines

    Bob W: And Eric, he said that Trump wasn’t a Christian if he said certain things, but those things were words that the Pope himself conveniently imagined him saying…building walls and not bridges.

    Reread the reporter’s question.

    Eric Hines

    • #19
  20. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    It drives me crazy the way so many people—including Ricochet Catholics!—will read a few deliberately sensationalized out-of-context quotes by the Pope, neglect the substance, ignore his qualifications, and then decry his handling of a given situation.

    Let’s start by pointing out that the Pope didn’t “pick a fight” with Trump, or “insert himself into American politics.” It was reporter who brought in American politics, in an way calculated to provoke controversy. Here was her question:

    Today, you spoke very eloquently about the problems of immigration. On the other side of the border, there is a very tough electoral battle. One of the candidates for the White House, Republican Donald Trump, in an interview recently said that you are a political man and he even said that you are a pawn, an instrument of the Mexican government for migration politics. Trump said that if he’s elected, he wants to build 2,500 kilometers of wall along the border. He wants to deport 11 million illegal immigrants, separating families, etcetera. I would like to ask you, what do you think of these accusations against you and if a North American Catholic can vote for a person like this?

    I find nothing in his answer to disagree with. I don’t find it inappropriate or inapt or any of those things. I find it winningly humble and sincere and true to his religious mission. (I’ll paste it below.)

    • #20
  21. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    He begins with some self-deprecating humor:

    Thank God he said I was a politician because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ 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.

    And then he speaks as the Christian moral leader he is.

    And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel.

    Notice, first that he declines to attack Donald Trump personally. Rather he makes his statement general and hypothetical. And in that mode, what he says is simply true. He doesn’t say “no walls”, never mind no borders. He says that to be Christian is to be concerned not only with keeping others out, but with welcoming the strangers. And he’s right. It’s in the Gospel, not to mention continuous Christian tradition.

    Then he declines to meddle in American politics. And he qualifies his statement again.

    As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.

    • #21
  22. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    The pope’s native land is one of the most lush, fertile and underpopulated nations on earth, blessed with natural resources most nations would pray for. Why aren’t these immigrants marching south to this potential paradise? Because it follows the economic policies that the pope espouses for others.

    • #22
  23. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Susan Quinn: I’m so sorry that you and all my Catholic friends are being put in this awkward position.

    This particular case isn’t at all awkward for me, as I said in the chat room after the last debate I will never vote for Trump.  The “Bush knowingly lied about WMD” line was the final straw for me.  If Trump wins the nomination I’ll be taking a hard look at the Libertarian Party candidate in November.

    Page me if Francis picks a fight with Rubio, that would put me in an awkward position…

    • #23
  24. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    PB, the Pope was a constant, eloquent critic of the regime in Argentina and its abusive policies that left so many in abject poverty, while the elites lived in luxury.

    • #24
  25. katievs Inactive
    katievs
    @katievs

    I’m with Joseph. I would never vote for Trump, not least because he strikes me as a person of low character.

    Further, as a believing Catholic (married to a green card holder, no less) I could not get behind a national immigration policy that focuses only on building walls and keeping people out, rather than also finding good ways to bring people in.

    I just want it done in an orderly way. Not like the chaos and lawlessness we have now.

    • #25
  26. Joseph Stanko Coolidge
    Joseph Stanko
    @JosephStanko

    Peter Robinson: We Catholics owe the pope a certain respect–he is, after all, the head of the oldest institution on earth and the direct heir, in unbroken apostolic succession, of St. Peter himself. But how–how–do we maintain even a patina of reverence… when he says things that are–well, that are just foolish

    St. Peter himself said and did some pretty foolish things in his day.  The stories the Bible records are not especially flattering: his denials during Jesus’ trial, sinking after his attempt to walk on water, the rebuke that prompted Jesus to say “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me.”  And yet, knowing all this, Jesus chose him anyway to lead his Church.

    It almost seems like our Lord has a soft spot for a certain type of leader with a big heart, enthusiasm, and a tendency to stick his foot in his mouth now and then…

    • #26
  27. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    I take back my mean spirited comment, but do believe he should re-prioritize the political issues he chooses to highlight — this is a crucial time for Venezuela, for example, why doesn’t he take time to promote healing there rather than appear to bash the USA?

    • #27
  28. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I am not Catholic but I seem to recall that the walls of the Vatican are pretty damn high…

    • #28
  29. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    EJHill:I am not Catholic but I seem to recall that the walls of the Vatican are pretty damn high…

    vaticanwall

    • #29
  30. Pencilvania Inactive
    Pencilvania
    @Pencilvania

    Unfortunately I feel Pope Francis is a pawn, but of the leftist media.

    • #30
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