It had to happen. Pope Francis, when asked by a reporter about Donald Trump at his traditional end of road trip press conference said, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,”
One of Trump’s signature policies is that he wants to build a wall along the US Mexico border to keep Mexicans out.
Francis made a point of celebrating Mass a stones’ throw from the US border in the city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Before the Mass he walked to the edge of the Rio Grande, watched by American border officers, and laid flowers at a new memorial commemorating those who have died trying to cross the border.
Trump, in turn, called the Pope’s remarks “disgraceful”. He also accused the pope of being a pawn of the Mexican government before dismissing him with “Now it’s probably going to be all over the world. Who the hell cares? OK? I don’t care.”
Trump’s religious crudeness has been evident throughout his campaign. In a speech at the evangelical Liberty University he referred to “Two Corinthians” rather than “Second Corinthians”, and later that month he tried to put cash on a communion plate while attending a Presbyterian worship service in Iowa.
While in the great scheme of things this doesn’t amount to much, the polar opposites of the two men is evident.
Francis, on one hand is an inclusive, theological liberal. His call for compassion and care across all of the global community is modelled on a regular basis, whether it is in his practice in worship or living in a Vatican hotel instead of the private Papal apartment.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. He is richer than Croceus, successful (although he has been through multiple bankruptcies) and preaches isolationism and exclusivity. His campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again” resonates with voters who fear loss of privilege both at home and in the world.
Against Trump, Pope Francis has Christian Scripture and the words of Jesus. The Great Commandment says, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
I suspect Donald Trump wouldn’t know much about those ideas. Nor would he understand these words of Jesus; “... for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ ... ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
His response would probably be, “You’re fired!”
Pass the popcorn.
Rev. David Shearman is a retired United Church minister in Owen Sound and the host of Faithworks on Rogers TV - Grey County.