Monday, February 22, 2016

The pope said what about whom?

      Before discussing what Pope Francis said the other day, let's discuss one of the most Christlike things a U.S. president has done lately.
     That was when President Obama brought soothing words to an American mosque, words like, "You're not Muslim or American. You're Muslim and American."
     Marco Rubio, the junior robot from Florida, said the visit was meant to "divide the country." Within the next 30 seconds, we can be certain, he repeated it.
     In the event of a Rubio presidency, I'm curious which Americans he would seek to represent — which Americans he'd soothe with a visit, and which ones he would shun.
     Traveling through Africa recently, Pope Francis said, "Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters." He can say that because he is not on the Republican primary ballot.
     It's the same reason that he could say the other day: "A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian."
     This was framed by the media as an attack on Donald Trump. True?
     Amid the expected tumult, the pope appeared to say, "If the sandals fit, wear them." However, he said he meant not to single out any one person.
     Of course, just as rapidly as the press made the assumption, Trump jumped to affirm it. Yes, just like him.
     The comedy in Trump knows no bounds. Most comically, in his furious response to the pontiff, he referred to Christianity's being "consistently attacked." Christianity attacked by whom? The pope?
     Well, not to disappoint anyone, but I'm here to take Trump off the hook. As Pope Francis said, he didn't single out anyone. He was talking of a whole mess of wall-builders and their deafening bellicosity. That means you, Ted Cruz. That means you, Marco Rubio.
     That means demonizing Mexicans or Muslims, or desperate Central Americans or Syrians. That means never considering quantum shifts in relations with Cuba and Iran that would make this a more tolerant and amiable planet. A wall is a wall.
     It could be said that the hottest seat in hell is reserved for those beneficiaries of great fortune who would deny the same to others. Cruz and Rubio were both born to refugees but now refuse to see the very same life-or-death circumstances bearing down on others.
     Trump rides the wave of anti-immigrant hysteria while an immigrant bride rides his arm down the escalator.
     Once again, Pope Francis didn't mean Trump in particular when saying what he said. He meant everyone who would be inspired by Trump's words: "They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people." The "they" of course, means Mexicans.
     The pope didn't mean anyone in particular, except anyone who would gobble up such words and pooh-pooh a papal proposition called brotherhood.
     What does it mean to be Christian? We all should know what it means. By and large nothing in the political process bears any resemblance.
     That said, it is mystifying that Cruz, who stands out in the GOP field for what the Washington Post's Dana Milbank calls "utter nastiness," could be considered the supposed choice of America's evangelical Christians. How so?
     When President Obama shed tears on the dais after one more mass murder, commentator John Pavlovitz wrote something sure to send Cruz supporters into conniptions. He wrote that Obama's presidency has been "more Christian than his critics will ever admit."
     Obama, like few other American leaders, has "championed justice, equality and the inherent dignity of all people in a way that closely mirrors the stated mission of Christ, certainly as much as any politician on either side can claim," wrote Pavlovitz.
     I know: Trump, Cruz and Rubio would prefer that Pavovlitz, like the pope, would stop being so literal, particularly about that brotherhood stuff.

Longtime newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email:

1 comment:

Equity said...

Another nail struck squarely on the head! Thank you , John Young, for stating my feelings as I wish that I could. You, H.M. Baggerly, Mollie Ivins and Jim Hightower are and were the true journalists that make folks truly ponder politics and see politicians for what they are ...too often self-serving and hypocritical.