February 19, 2016
Evidently, after leaving Mexico, the Pope was asked about presidential hopeful Donald Trump and his idea of building a wall between the US and Mexico. Apparently the Pope responded, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” There you have it.
The Pope was asked about a specific matter. He gave a generalized, universal answer. Then it is up to the listener to apply the answer to the specific situation. And where did the Pope get this play? From Jesus, of course. Again and again, Jesus is asked specific questions, sometimes by people who are trying to trip him up, and he gives a general answer and leaves the rest up to the listener. One example is the story that tells of Jesus being asked whether or not it is lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. Jesus says, Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s; give to God what is God’s. Jesus does not specifically answer the question but gives a wisdom teaching that relates to the question. It is left up to those who hear to draw their own conclusion.
So the Pope says, “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” There is no direct mention of Trump. There is no specific reference to the wall between the US and Mexico. There is a general statement about the teachings of Jesus upon which Christianity founded. Christianity is about reconciliation and bringing people together, especially people who are different from each other. The Pope is talking about the way of Jesus, the Christian faith. He is explaining and defining Christianity which is absolutely under his purview as a Christian leader. He is making a general statement.
That Donald Trump and US politicos and pundits take the Pope’s words as an attack on Trump and an inappropriate foray into US politics, is their response, but it cannot be attributed to the Pope. They are taking what the Pope said and applying it and they are drawing the conclusion that it is an attack on Trump. They are choosing to see Trump as someone who “thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges. . .” They are applying the Pope’s general words specifically to Trump. The Pope did not do that. Trump and other listeners are doing that.
This is not a surprise coming from Trump because he has made himself known as someone who is all about “me.” And the last thing anyone could accuse Trump of is being humble. (Another attribute of a Christian?) So, this little brouhaha has really been instigated by Trump, who, as usual, is using it to get himself more publicity. He’s really good at that. Once again we see that Trump certainly has faith in himself.