Pope Francis-Trump: The Wall Vs. The Bridge
Are we not all children of the same Father? Are we not all created by the same God? Then why do we betray each other, violating the covenant of our ancestors?” Malachi 2:10
What every Catholic wants to know – how are things between the President-Elect of the US and the God-Elect of the Vatican?
The NLTCE team presents the chronology of interactions between US and Rome, the rest is up to you to decide.
In the beginning was the word, and it was a good word, a tweet. Not long after Pope Francis was elected the Holy See in spring 2013, Trump tweeted: “The new Pope is a humble man, very much like me, which probably explains why I like him so much!”
The change came because of several developments including Donald Trump’s audacious move of declaring his candidacy to be elected President of the most powerful country in the world.
In February 2016, during an inflight news conference en route from Juarez Rome, a twinkled-eye reported asked the Pope his opinion about Donald Trump. The twinkle was there because a week before Presidential front-runner had vented spleen on the Pontiff for the latter’s decision to stand with migrants at the U.S.-Mexican border.
Trump spoke on all major news channels that Pope Francis as a “very political person.” He felt the Pope ought not to talk sweepingly about things without full knowledge of a situation. “I don’t think he understands the danger of the open border that we have with Mexico, in which Mexicans are making a fortune and we are losing,” fumed Trump. He had obviously forgotten the earlier admiration he had expressed for the 79-year-old pontiff, even suggesting he would like to have him on his reality TV show “Celebrity Apprentice.”
Back to the twinkle-eyed question and Pope Francis’ response (please remember that the Pope is willing to answer questions on anybody and anything, apart from Diego Maridonna), said with tongue in Holy cheek: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not trying to build bridges instead, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel.”
The very next day there was an explosion from Trump who was at a campaign event in South Carolina: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” he stormed. “No leader, especially a religious leader, has the right to question another man’s religion or faith.” He concluded expressing scorn that the Holy Father was allowing himself to be used as a pawn by the Mexican Government. “They should be ashamed of themselves, when so many lives are involved and illegal immigration is rampant and bad for the United States. We are going to build that wall and make Mexico pay for it.”
When well-wishers tried to calm down Trump reminding him the Catholic vote was important for the winning of the presidency, Trump in his usual irrepressible way said, “If and when the Vatican is attacked by Isis, which everyone knows is Isis’s ultimate trophy, the Pope will at that stage wish and pray that Donald Trump should have been president; because then, it would not have happened.” Peace-makers told Catholic Bishops in US that the President-Elect disparaged the Pope, but they admitted that “sometimes maybe Donald could use some better words.”
Prominent Catholics in the US appeared to be on Trump’s side. “We are a sovereign country, and we have a right to control who comes in, when they come in and how they come in,” an ex-mayor, a Catholic, said. “Vatican City controls who comes in, when they come in, and how they come in. The United States has a right to do that as well.” Then came the conflicting loyalties. The same senator Rubio said, “Pope Francis is the head of the church, he is the successor of St. Peter, and we uphold that, and have tremendous respect and admiration for him.”
Things simmered to and fro between the two men, but whereas Trump quietly backed off, Pope Francis held on to his basic principle. In a speech delivered at the Vatican just three days before the U.S. presidential elections, Pope Francis addressed social justice activists from around the world not to give into the politics of fear by building walls but instead to work at building bridges. He explained, “Fear is a good deal for the merchants of arms and death – but it weakens and destabilizes us, destroys psychological and spiritual defenses, turns us numb toward the suffering of others.”
The line that caught at everyone’s heart was when the Holy Father implored: “Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the end, all walls fall.”
What happened when Donald Trump won the elections? It may or may not be significant that the Pope did not speak at all. It was the Vatican Secretary of the State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin who offered his prayers that the new president-elect would promote peace in a world torn by conflict. His exact words: “First of all, we take note with respect that the will of the American people in this exercise of democracy was characterized by the large turnout. We congratulate the preside so that his new government can be truly fruitful and pray that the Lord will illuminate him in the service of his homeland, naturally, but also for the peace and wellbeing of the world.”
Finally, just a few days ago, the Pope himself spoke up and said without beating around the bush that he will not judge President-elect Donald Trump on his political policies other than those that impact the poor. “I’m interested only if he hurts the poor.”
Once more he stood his ground” “We need to break down walls between the rich and the poor, and build bridges that allow a reduction in inequality and an increase in freedom and rights. What we want is a fight against inequality. This is the greatest evil that exists in the world.”
-by The NLTCE News Network