Francis Judges Trump?
Posted on February 19, 2016
"Who am I to judge?"
Pope Francis famously asked that question early on in his tenure when a reporter asked him about homosexuality.
Of course, the job of Pope is about making judgments, mostly of the spiritual kind.
And Francis didn’t have any problem making a pretty declarative statement of Donald Trump’s Christianity.
I am a big fan of this new Pope. I think he has done immeasurable good for the Catholic Church and for the world in general.
His shoot from the hip style often gets him into a bit of trouble and I assume that if he could do it all over again, he would prefer to stay out of the United States Presidential primary debate.
I am not a huge Donald Trump fan. I think he is a blowhard. His answers to questions are incredibly shallow. He doesn’t offer realistic policy prescriptions. He also shoots from the hip, although that seems the never get him in trouble with voters.
And when Trump says it is disgraceful for a religious leader to question somebody’s faith, he is pretty much wrong.
Since the very beginnings of the Christianity, questioning somebody’s faith is a key component of the religion.
After all, Jesus himself questioned the faith of some of his key Apostles. "Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times," Jesus told Peter.
Defining and then defending the faith is the most important job of a Pontiff.
Casting out heretics, excommunicating those who betray the key teachings of the church, making infallible statements about the doctrine of the Church, that’s what Popes do.
So, it is well within the rights of the Pope to question the Christian bono fides of people like Donald Trump.
Jesus once said that it was easier for camel to get through the eye of the needle than for a rich man to get into the Kingdom of God.
Donald Trump likes to point out endlessly how rich he is. So it would seem that the Pontiff is on pretty solid ground when talking about the blustery billionaire.
Of course, Francis wasn't talking about the Donald’s money. He was talking about his incendiary rhetoric about building a wall on the Mexican border and getting the Mexicans to pay for it.
Jesus also divided spiritual matters from more political ones. “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's.” It would seem that building walls is essentially a political decision.
Trump pointed out last night that Vatican City is defined pretty clearly by high walls. Old Jerusalem is divided into four quadrants, with high walls. So Trump’s desire to build a wall on our border shouldn’t necessarily disqualify him as a Christian.
In Belfast, they call them Peace Walls, erected to keep one Christian sect from killing another Christian sect.
They say that good fences make good neighbors. And I suppose that is true as long as the neighbors regularly communicate and are friendly with one another.
But high walls are also a symbol of hate and can be used to oppress people.
‘Tear down that wall, Mr. Gorbachev,” Ronald Reagan famously said at the site of the Berlin Wall.
There is a huge and dangerous series of walls that separate North Korea from South Korea. If you have ever been to the DMZ, you know how fragile that peace truly is.
Francis gets caught up in the emotion of things.
He was on his way back from Mexico when he questioned Mr. Trump’s faith. It was in Mexico where he lost his cool because his personal space was invaded by overeager fans.
It was interesting seeing the Pontiff lose his cool and a bit jarring. He likes to smile, to build bridges, and to spread around the love.
But the Pope is a human being too. He is not infallible in all things.
He might be right about Trump’s Christian faith, but he might have been better off if he kept that analysis to himself.