Francis and Trump: Populist Leaders Preaching Divergent Messages

Feb 19, 2016

Photo credit: David Wallace/The Arizona Republic, via Associated Press

By Jim Yardley

In the cage fight of American presidential politics, the matchup is irresistible: Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, the pope of the poor who has knelt to wash the feet of prisoners and Muslims, versus Donald J. Trump, billionaire Republican who disparages Muslims and kneels to no one.

When Francis suggested that Mr. Trump “is not Christian” in answering a reporter’s question during his return flight from Mexico, the Latin American pope not only served up red meat for global headline writers (“Francis Excommunicates Trump,” declared La Stampa in Italy), but again demonstrated his knack for sticking his nose into putatively secular affairs. His flap with Mr. Trump is about immigration, and to Francis the issue transcends any campaign cycle.

From the first days of his papacy, when he insisted on paying his hotel bill himself, Francis has understood the power of a gesture, and of a global spotlight available to any pope capable of using it. The pontiff who made a politically charged visit to the United States-Mexico border on Wednesday is the same one who in 2014 stopped in Bethlehem to pray at the graffiti-covered wall dividing the Palestinian city from Israeli-controlled Jerusalem.

His critics in the United States, many of them conservative Catholics, argue that Francis is a “political pope” pursuing a leftist agenda that castigates capitalism and environmental degradation. Even before Francis’s remarks about him, Mr. Trump had criticized the pope as “a political person” and accused him of visiting the border as a favor to the Mexican government.


Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.

9 comments on “Francis and Trump: Populist Leaders Preaching Divergent Messages

  • @OP – When Francis suggested that Mr. Trump “is not Christian” in answering a reporter’s question during his return flight from Mexico, the Latin American pope not only served up red meat for global headline writers (“Francis Excommunicates Trump,” declared La Stampa in Italy), but again demonstrated his knack for sticking his nose into putatively secular affairs. His flap with Mr. Trump is about immigration, and to Francis the issue transcends any campaign cycle.

    The two share so much in common, in making knee-jerk comments that will trigger emotional sympathy reactions in followers, while making no attempt to address the practicalities of the deeper complex underlying problems! (Some of which are generated by followers acting on their preachings and their cultures of rampant exploitative capitalism, and Catholic induced poverty and corruption!)



    Report abuse

  • This spat illustrates all I disagree with in the expression, ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’. Hard to say who is more hateful, the one whose organisation has caused so much suffering, or the one whose views put popularism ahead of any sense of human kindness.
    The leader of the richest organisation in the world or someone who has serially failed in business and had to be bailed out by the tax payer.

    Secondly it gives us the pleasure of the pope using the ‘No true Scotsman’ fallacy against Trump. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/jun/09/donaldtrump.scotland



    Report abuse

  • 3
    Stardusty Psyche says:

    Catholic induced poverty

    Poverty is very Christian. It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

    That seems to disqualify Trump! I’m not so sure the pope was making knee jerk statements. The Presbyterians are not true Christians because they reject the authority of the bishop of Rome, granted by apostolic succession from Peter, who was granted authority directly by Jesus.

    The Muslims call it takfir, the declaration of kafir.

    I call it no true Scotsman applied by one practitioner of religious superstition to a practitioner of a slightly different religious superstition.



    Report abuse

  • Stardusty Psyche #3
    Feb 20, 2016 at 11:32 am

    The Presbyterians are not true Christians because they reject the authority of the bishop of Rome, granted by apostolic succession from Peter, who was granted authority directly by Jesus.

    Unless we look at alternative mythologies purged by Constantine’s bishops, where Perter was not the leading disciple/apostle! (assuming that “Jesus” existed)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_Mary#Interpretation
    However Levi defends Mary Magdelene and quells Peter’s attack on her. In the text, Peter appears to be offended by the discovery that Jesus selected Mary above the other disciples to interpret his teachings.
    According to Bart D. Ehrman: “Mary (Magdalene) is accorded a high status among the apostles of Jesus.” Levi actually acknowledges that Jesus loved her more than he loved all of the other apostles.



    Report abuse

  • JimJFox #5
    Feb 21, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Who’d YOU prefer to repel islam??

    Nether of them show any competence in dealing with the issues!

    Neither pandering nor inflammatory statements, are likely to make any useful contribution to keeping funding or weapons from militant Islamists.



    Report abuse

  • His critics in the United States, many of them conservative Catholics, argue that Francis is a “political pope”

    Is there any other kind?

    pursuing a leftist agenda

    oh I see, wrong sort of political



    Report abuse

  • The analysis of Jim Yardley on the Francis-versus-Trump made-for-media clash seems to me an ambiguous article.

    The title of the article and some paragraphs seem to put the Pope and Trump at the same level, but the rest of the article seems to be in favor of the Pope, strongly in favor of the Pope.

    I don’t know, but I suspect that when your sources are Giovanni Maria Vian, Vatican officials, Rev. Federico Lombardi, and similar, it is difficult to write a different article.

    An antitheist atheist as me has a different opinion on what is happening.

    Data show that the visitors and pilgrims that arrived in Rome in late 2015 and early 2016 were less than those in 2013. And that notwithstanding the Jubilee of the Mercy and the presence in Rome of the mummified body of S. Pio (the greater impostor on earth) that in his sanctuary in S. Giovanni Rotondo, Puglia, Italy, usually attracts a great amount of pilgrims.

    Why should somebody face an expensive trip to Rome to see a chap that, like the Pope, is on all media every five minutes?

    As I have written in a comment some months ago, also the Francis-show, after a while, becomes boring.

    The true challenge is the popularity of Francis versus the popularity of Benedict. Do you imagine if Francis is discovered guilty to attract in Rome fewer followers than those that his retired predecessor had attracted?

    Then the team of experts of communication of Francis has told him that only strong international news could attract more attention on the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics that, on 7 billion, is only 17.1%, a large minority, nevertheless a minority. But a minority that has been accustomed to hold the stage and that becomes sad and depressed if the Pope appears too humble. And this happens when the Pope isn’t considered the First Lady by the media.

    About the intrusion of the Vatican in political issues, why don’t you search in Internet the phrases: Cardinal Bagnasco, law on homosexual civil marriage in Italy? Then you will discover what sort of miserable condo Italy is. A very sad Italy-Vatican joint ownership in which the members of the Italian Parliament take orders by those high up in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.

    On the matter that Francis is supporting the right of the (Catholic) Latinos of entering in the USA, the adjective in parentheses is sufficient.

    About the problem of immigration in Europe, it is a complex mix of ingredients. Many bad forces are at work trying to destroy the European Union to transform it from a project of democracy to a market for sharks. The situation is very bad, but different and not directly comparable with the situation of the United States-Mexico border. Trump is not the model for European fascists, racists, xenophobes, populists, and similar, he is only a recent American version of them.

    On the matter of the claimed interest of Francis for the poor, he realizes that 17.1% is no more sufficient to hold the stage as First Lady, and that the poor are more inclined toward religion than the well-off, as shown in an article published in pewresearch.org on 23 December, 2015 titled: Americans are in the middle of the pack globally when it comes to importance of religion.

    §

    Instead to act, recite, and pretend in order to hold the stage as First Lady, I can suggest to the Jesuit king of the Vatican a little reform of the Christianity that can achieve much more with very less efforts.

    A Project to Save Christianity (by an antitheist atheist)

    1 Doctrinal changes.

    1.1. The idea of eternal truth by means of holy books is abandoned.

    1.2. To establish a cosmology is no more matter for religion.

    1.3. The idea of supernatural is abolished along with the idea of afterlife, except when intended as the continuation of the biological life by means of offspring.

    1.4. Jesus Christ is only an example, historical or legendary, of a human being that preferred to die after suffering instead to use violence. His death wants to teach and remind to the other human beings that in the life it does exist also the suffering, and, if that suffering isn’t avoidable, each one has to carry its own part, avoiding charging it upon the others.

    1.5. God is only a name of a concept as Pink Unicorn is the name of all imaginable pink unicorns.

    2 Administrative changes.

    2.1. Priests can be both man and woman.

    2.2. Priests, of each sex, can be married or single with or without children.

    2.3. Christian followers have to pay for their religious organizations without any contribution by the State.

    2.4. No charity can be done by State contribution. Charity has to be organized only by genuine donations by well-off people to help those less lucky.

    2.5. Rites of Passage are only a communitarian service.

    2.6. Psychological help for those in need has to be congruent with modern psychology.

    2.7. Public holidays have to be taken back to the ancient origins of astronomical/agricultural/naturalist meanings.

    3 Finale.

    3.1. All the rest has to be considered as “the mythology of the ancient Christians” in the manner as the humanists of the Renaissance did with the ancient Greek-Roman mythology.

    I forecast that, with this little reformation, at least 4 billion people on 7 will not have problem to become Christian. And then the Pope can be rightly considered the First Lady on stage. 😉



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.