Something There Is That Doesn’t Love a Wall

or, in this case, someone. Presumably, by now you’ve heard of the exchange of words between Pope Francis and American presidential aspirant Donald Trump, reported here at CNN:

(CNN)Thrusting himself into the combative 2016 presidential campaign, Pope Francis said Thursday that GOP front-runner Donald Trump “is not Christian” if he calls for the deportation of undocumented immigrants and pledges to build a wall between the United States and Mexico.

The Pope, who was traveling back to Rome from Mexico, where he urged the United States to address the “humanitarian crisis” on its southern border, did not tell American Catholics not to vote for Trump.

Here’s what Francis actually said:

A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not 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 is man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and I will give him the benefit of the doubt.

Daring to rush in where angels fear to tread, I think that on the plane of faith and morals Francis is right. As Christians we have an affirmative responsibility to reach out to the truly needy. However, and as rarely mentioned by pontiffs, civil authorities also have a moral responsibility to see that the laws are executed, to ensure that people who would do harm to people or property are prevented from entering the country, and to preserve order.

It may be that Francis and I disagree on one particular point. I don’t think our responsibility to the truly needy should be construed as a blanket guarantee for anybody who wants to to work in the United States.

I’d also be interested in Francis’s views on some questions. For example, if I have two dollars, do I have a moral obligation to give one of them to someone who only has one dollar? Also, do migrants have moral obligations, too? I think the answers to those questions are “No” and “Yes”, respectively.

As to the other half of the conversation, I don’t care whether Donald Trump is a Christian or not and I don’t care what Francis says about Donald Trump (or vice versa).

I also think that Francis is taking it a little easy on wealthy Mexicans. Income inequality there is worse than it is here (second worst in the OECD, according to this backgrounder). And what about the “humanitarian crisis” on Mexico’s southern border? And they’re supposed to be Catholics. Selective criticism makes it sound as though he has the typical European intellectual’s disdain for America and all things American.

30 comments… add one
  • CStanley

    I think the selectivity is mostly on the part of the press (asking him specific questions to frame his remarks as though they are one sided.) From what I read, he was very critical of the Mexican government during his visit.

  • As a matter of practicality it’s darned hard to be too critical of the Mexican government.

  • PD Shaw

    I thought the Pope was right in terms of an allegorical wall, but not a physical wall. The walls of my home don’t prevent charity, but they may make it possible.

  • ...

    This Pope seems to like the Castro boys (as does Obama and the rest of the Democratic establishment) but doesn’t like at least one of the leading contenders for the US presidency – implies he’s unChristian. (As if a Protestant would give a rat’s ass what a pope said.) Really, what more needs to be said?

    If Trump makes the ballot in the fall I’m going to vote for him solely because of the people he pisses off. Otherwise I’ve promised my vote to Nikki Minaj.

  • (As if a Protestant would give a rat’s ass what a pope said.) Really, what more needs to be said?

    Actually, the pope’s criticism probably helps Trump among evangelicals.

  • michael reynolds

    At this point I’m just sitting back watching the weird. If I didn’t care about the country this would be the best election ever. As sheer spectacle only 1968 comes close, but for bizarre, nothing touches 2016. I’m just wondering when the alien landing is going to happen.

  • PD Shaw

    For my money, not the weirdest thing I’ve seen in the last 24 hours — that would be Kasich dismissing the contributions of the deceased members of Pink Floyd. Kasich wants to exert the full powers of the Presidency to reunite Gilmour and Waters to perform a rock opera about a metaphorical wall.

  • As sheer spectacle only 1968 comes close

    Believe it or not it’s much weirder now than it was then. And the rhetoric is harsher if such a thing be possible.

  • There are no good guys with the exception of the Kurds.

    And I think the Kurds are being over-sold. I’m suspicious of any group whose political parties are headed by their traditional hereditary tribal chieftains.

  • michael reynolds

    It’s hard to keep track of it all, PD.

    This is a year in which a socialist railing against big money in politics is proving that big money does not run politics; a demagogue is proving that Republicans don’t really believe in anything much, certainly not in GOP canon; the most plausible woman candidate ever is losing women; a septuagenarian is winning youth; the three arguably competent GOP candidates, Bush, Christie and Kasich can’t break into solid double digits; a lazy, robotic little punk gets away with stabbing his mentor in the back; the neurosurgeon turns out to be an idiot; and the only candidate less likely to be able to work with a Republican Senate than Bernie Sanders would be, is a nasty little creep who also happens to actually be a Republican senator.

    The media’s contribution is to constantly decry the focus on Donald Trump right before they go live to Donald Trump.

    If you wrote this as fiction it would absolutely be filed under comedy. It’s too unlikely to be anything else.

  • michael reynolds


    Yeah, but we had excellent riots in 1968. The ’68 Democratic convention has yet to be equaled in the annals of liberal self-destruction. That was the first election I paid close attention to, and this is my kid’s first election. I’ve told him it’s seldom this entertaining, don’t assume this is the norm. Or at least hope it’s not.

  • It ain’t August yet.

  • TastyBits

    We were all crazy, that year, and many people developed aggressive attitudes. When I packed for Chicago, there was nothing unusual about including a Bell motorcycle helmet, yellow ski goggles, a new pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars (sneakers), and a short billyclub. Packing for Chicago was not like taking off for Club Med. The Democratic Party has never recovered from that convention.

    Songs of the Doomed (p. 288)
    Hunter S. Thompson

  • TastyBits


    I would have to drag my carcass to the polls to vote for Trump just for the fun factor, but I am now torn between Camille Paglia and Nicki Minaj.

    Camille is not a looker, but I am an absolute sexist. Anything with two X chromosomes gets my attention, and she has a quick wit and sharp tongue. Maybe Nicki could have her as attack VP. Camille could be issued a plastic dagger disguised as a pencil, and she could shove it through the eye socket of anybody who got in their way.

    A lesbian, a person of color, an intellectual, an entrepreneur, a hottie, a not so hottie, and two bad assed women running the country. After eight years of the president wearing mom jeans and riding a girl’s bike with a stupid looking helmet, I could stand a change.

  • Andy

    Frankly, I don’t understand this notion among conservatives that the US needs a literal wall to control illegal immigration. Not only do they sound like East Germans (irony alert), but there’s the historical fact that America has long been able to control immigration with Mexico without the need for a physical wall. But hey, it’s “infrastructure” right, so maybe someone will eventually justify it as a way to boost economic growth.

  • Guarneri

    If it all seems too bizarre and impossible perhaps you should question your assumptions and analysis. For example, income inequality has widened considerably under the hope and change guy, champion, ahem, of the little guy. I, for one, am not surprised. Remember how I used to lecture, to deaf ears, how the rich were already rich, and would just bide their time and ride the wave while progressive policies took Joe Average into the toilet?
    I doubt it.

    So now we have a portion of the electorate, the young know nothing’s, who support a candidate they think will pull the levers on the system and give them free beer.

    Hillary “Who do You Want Me to Be” Clinton who, similarly, promises free beer and unlimited political prostitution. The difference is that her supporters have the mean green.

    And then we have a narcissistic cretin who realizes that people, Dems and a Repubs – even though many Dems are in denial – are damned fed up, as they only get every 20 years or so, and might be able to ride that all the way. So he stokes the fire at every opportunity.

    It appears that the only real ideologues are Cruz, think of him what you may, and Sanders. Sanders policies are laughable. But it doesn’t matter, the delegate system fix is in. His only role would be to frighten the money people sufficiently for Hillary to “have an illness.”

    Can Cruz assemble a big enough coalition? I really don’t know.

  • steve

    The Pope answered the question correctly, then everyone else jumped in to try to make it mean something else.

    “For example, if I have two dollars, do I have a moral obligation to give one of them to someone who only has one dollar?”

    Catholic teaching on charity would say no. As to the immigrants having moral obligations the answer is yes, but I assume your question was rhetorical. I also doubt very much, though I have not seen the Pope asked the question, that he believes any country has to let everyone in who wants to come, just that they should accept some.

    ” Remember how I used to lecture, to deaf ears, how the rich were already rich, and would just bide their time and ride the wave while progressive policies took Joe Average into the toilet?”

    Remember how I said that the rich so completely control the courts, government and media that it will be almost impossible to shake their hold? Thanks for confirming it.


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