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Friday, February 19, 2016


As for me, as a non Catholic admirer of Francis, and someone who respects the leader of the Church, however fragmented and contentious we may be, anyone who disses The Pope is a turkey. It's a bit like trashing the President. One can detest the individual opinions of the person in the office but must show respect to the office itself because of the millions of people it represents. I personally do not believe in the 19th century doctrine of Papal infallibility but I do believe that Francis can and should note the fact when any Christian on earth appears to be acting counter the Gospel. As a Father disciplines his children and a shepherd tends his flock when they stray. Silly sheep and especially rank billy goats w tufts on their heads make an ugly noise when redirected....

I don't know the Pope's exact comments or the exact context for them. I assume it was more nuanced than has been reported by the media I've read.

That said, if the Pope really did say Trump wasn't a Christian because he (Trump) supports an immigration wall or whatever, then in my opinion the Pope is off base. I say that for 2 reasons.

1. Francis (probably) doesn't have any special insight into the state of Trump's soul.

2. Christianity is predicated on the idea that all people, including bona fide "Christians" are sinners. If it is a sin, or merely "unchristian," to support the policies Trump does, that doesn't by itself make Trump a non-Christian.

To be sure, there's a lot I don't know about Catholicism (even though I was raised Catholic), so I don't know if Popes are credited with the power to discern who is truly or not truly a "Christian." (I've heard they have the power to excommunicate, but I don't know if that's the same thing.) And maybe I'm off about what (Catholic) Christianity is truly "predicated" on.

Here's a description of what transpired:

In a press conference aboard the papal flight to Rome following his six-day trip to Mexico, the pontiff was asked to respond to Trump's allegation last week that his decision to celebrate Mass in Ciudad Juarez near the border made him a political pawn of the Mexican state.
"Thank God that he said I am political because Aristotle defines the human person as animal politicus (political animal)," the pope quipped. "At least I am human!"
"Am I a pawn?" Francis asked. "Maybe. I don't know. I'll leave the judgment to you, to the people."
"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not Christian," said the pontiff. "This is not in 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 that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that.”... "I'll only say that this man is not Christian if he says this," said the pontiff. "We have to see if he said these things. And ... I give the benefit of the doubt."

My take on this is that Trump took the Pope's words and twisted them to benefit Trump. That says nothing about whether the Pope was right or wrong, but I think it does say that Trump is wrong because twisting another's words is dishonest.

On the deeper philosophical question, I don't think the Pope has ever had the "power" to declare one a Christian or non-Christian. Ex-communication means one has behaved outside the rules of the Church and that is serious, but not a bearing on one's Christianity. Even within Catholicism, the final judgment of belief is with God.

Eh... but what do I know?

Yeah, I don't know much either, Donna, but what you say about Trump and excommunication sounds about right.

Thanks for clearing that up, Dr. X.

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