Genuine integrity has a peculiar effect. As Pope Francis celebrated Mass at Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, on the northern edge of the developing world overlooking the fortified frontier of the most technologically advanced nation of the developed world, the contenders for the title ‘the most powerful man in the world’ fell silent. Francis’ prayers were for the many people who had died in their attempts to cross the border from Mexico into the United States, the result of poverty and repression in the global south, and a continuing migration which has enriched those in the States who have exploited their labour. His thoughts, his Christian thoughts, were with the poor, but Donald Trump’s were very much focused on the power of these thoughts.
Papa Francesco has taken a liking to opening up to the journalists on his flights around the world, and on his flight back to Rome he was happy to chat away. Someone from Reuters asked him what his thoughts were on Trump’s plan for an Israeli style border wall dividing Texas from Mexico, and Francis was more than happy to answer. He could only answer the truth. He could only remain true to his vocation as a Christian and, giving him the benefit of the doubt, answered that if Donald Trump spoke like this he was not speaking as a Christian.
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.
– Pope Francis on Donald Trump
According to ‘The Donald,’ responding to the in-flight comments, the Pope was an unwitting stooge of the Mexican government, being fed faulty information about his character. In an attempt to re-educate the Holy Father Trump insisted, like a petulant schoolchild, “I am a very nice person.” On the question of his personal Christianity, of which he claims to be proud, he demonstrated his splendid ignorance of the faith in insisting that no religious leader should have the right to comment on the faith of another. Oh you of little faith, perhaps he should consult the first Christian leader on that one.
Crossing swords with Francis on Christianity and the content of the Gospel is definitely not the smartest move Trump has made. In fairness, smart moves aren’t exactly Trump’s forte. His stance on immigration, while profiting from Mexican workers himself, has alienated him from the Catholic left, and his open support of pro-choice in the abortion debate has cut him off from the Catholic right. Now that he’s scrapping with the Pope he may as well discount the Catholic swing-vote in its entirety. Donald Trump, the man who would be king, is about to learn some lessons on power.