When someone asked Pope Francis if a good Catholic could vote for a man who wants to build a wall between Mexico and the United States, he answered that a person who wants to build walls rather than bridges is not a Christian. Trump was outraged at this statement. However he claims he wasn’t mad at the pope. He was mad at the Mexicans for telling the pope lies about him.
Some might doubt my impartiality on this issue for the reason that I’m not only a supporter of Bernie Sanders, I’ve argued for the importance of dialogue with the pope. However this touches on an issue that I was having problems with before the presidential race began. I’ll list the main points in no particular order.
1. There is nothing more confusing to an observer than a secular system in which politicians are expected to prove themselves to religious voters.
2. Politicians insist the pope has no right to comment on their behavior in office, even Catholic politicians.
3. Religion has had an enormous influence in America’s secular system.
4. Politicians who claim to be religious also claim autonomy from religious authority.
5. It seems that politicians violate the principle of the separation of church and state when they use their religion to win votes.
6. The behavior that was said to be un-Christian was the plan to build a wall to keep out migrants. Trump defended this plan on grounds that the pope was unaware of its importance. However its importance hinges on the unproven assumption that migrants are dangerous and therefore not deserving of our help.
7. Even if we accept the claim that the pope has no authority in politics and that his role is limited to spiritual matters, wouldn’t the definition of Christian behavior fall within his purview?