Thursday, February 18, 2016

O Boy, Now He's Done It!!!

Damn Pope Francis.  He keeps making history faster than I can write history.  I have at least two more postings on Sacred space and he has to go and say that Donald Trump isn’t a Christian if he (Trump) wants to build a wall to keep people out.  What is really interesting, however, is Mr. Trump’s response.  In the first place “The Donald” says: “For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful.”  Is it?  In our Catholic tradition it is precisely the role of religious leaders to challenge us to an authentic discipleship.   If Pope Francis—or any of his predecessors—said that Barack Obama is not a Christian, the krazies would stand and cheer.  Remember how outraged they were when Cardinal O’Malley came down from the altar to greet the President at Senator Kennedy’s funeral?  And those same people were furious that Kennedy was given a Catholic funeral.  But let the Pope remind us of Matthew 25:43, and the same people start screaming—maybe because they get the implication that in the opinion of the Pope they, like Mr. Trump, aren’t really disciples of Jesus Christ. 
But the key insight in Mr. Trump’s response was in his off –the-cuff remarks where he insisted that he was a “nice person” and wasn’t happy with the Pope questioning his niceness.  This is a problem about which I agree with the krazies.  We can’t water down being a Christian to being a nice person.  There are plenty of nice people who are not Christians.  Don’t confuse being nice with being Christian.  Jesus said that we would be recognized as his disciples by that we love one another.  Loving others and being nice often coincide but they are not the same thing.  We can’t reduce discipleship to being nice.  We must be faithful. 

I don’t know Donald Trump.  I do know that much of what he is promoting is not consistent with the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel.  On the other hand, my issue is not whether Donald Trump is a Christian but am I faithful to the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel?  When it comes down to the heart of the matter, to quote Pope Francis: who am I to judge? And, in the end, few voters take their faith into the voting booth with them.  Maybe that is something where we should all feel Francis’ sting.


  1. "Don’t confuse being nice with being Christian."

    This is true enough, but at the same time, "the fruit of the Spirit is, charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, longanimity, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity. Against such there is no law." (Gal 5:22-3; DRB); "a soft word turneth away wrath" (Proverbs 15:1); "rehearse not again a wicked and harsh word, and thou shalt not fare the worse" (Sir. 19:7). And who can forget William of Wickham's motto, "Manners maketh man"?

    Something I've been wondering a lot lately is, if the "krazies" as you call them are the truly pure ones, the cathari... why do they exhibit so little of that fruit of the spirit, at least online? I'm not claiming I'm better, or liberal Christians are better in general. But the "krazies" often set themselves up as the truly Christian ones....

    1. Well the issue is neither to be liberal or conservative, or nice or not nice for that matter, but to be faithful to the gospel. That is why I prefer the term "evangelical Catholic" or "evangelical Christian." But that only works when one is a true follower of the gospel (evangelion) and the proof of that pudding is found in Matthew 25 and how seriously we take Jesus' admonitions.

  2. One thought I had is that during Lent, I should remember that I should be following the teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. Lent is a good time for me to be reminded of that.

  3. I don't know how you define Krazie, but maybe I am one. But is Matthew 25 the only passage in the Bible that matters ? If we are going to focus on the Bible, then why aren't we fundamentalist Christians like the Southern Baptists or Bob Jones ? I think Catholicism is a bit more sophisticated, no ?

    Look, Trump is an idiot. He's good at real estate, but lousy on everything else. That said, while the specifics of his immigration plan might be looney, he does have a point. The US takes in more immigrants each year than the rest of the world combined. His problem is illegal immigration, something the Pope and the USCC have been ambiguous on. Actually, they haven't: the bishop in LA years ago was saying it didn't matter if they were legal or illegal, which really teed off my relatives out there. The value of their house is half what it was 15 years ago because you have too many houses with 2 or 3 or 4 families and 12-15 people living in them. These are 1-family homes that are meant for a normal family of 3-6.

    BTW, if you are interested, I found this site by Googling "Pope vs. Donald Trump" or something like that. Hope you don't attract too much attention from us late-night West Coasters.

  4. No Matthew 25 is not the only passage in the scriptures that matters, but it is the one by which we will be judged. I have always given my students a copy of their final exam on the first day of class as part of the syllabus. When asked why by other professors who are a bit more secretive about the exam, I simply point out that Jesus has given us our final exam in Matthew 25 so that we would know where to focus in preparation. I am not saying that a nation doesn't have the right to secure borders or set up immigration controls, but the Church does have a long heritage of supporting the rights of people to migrate seeking safety and better lives. There must be a balance while Mr. Trump has place the racism card in how he speaks of Mexicans and other Latinos. That is not acceptable by Christian standards. But then the good people of South Carolina don't have a particularly admirable history when it comes to folk who aren't so lily white. The Trump campaign panders to the fears and prejudices of the sinking middle class. it is an effective strategy but leads to strategies that are not compatible with our Catholic faith.

  5. I listened to the Pope's comments and actually he never said Donald Trump by name. True enough, the question as posed clearly refers to Trump, but in his response, the Pope just says that a person (any person) who focuses solely on building walls instead of bridges is not Christian. That point is hard to argue with in my opinion.