Pope Francis suggested Thursday that Donald Trump is "not Christian" because he wants to build a wall between the United States and Mexico. Trump fired back with his own statement, suggesting to the leader of the Roman Catholic Church that the Islamic State would love to have the Vatican as its "ultimate trophy."Sure, Trump can attack Megyn Kelly and John McCain. But the pope? Doesn't the right regard that as part of the war on Christianity? Isn't Catholicism very much in favor on the right these days, because of its opposition to abortion and homosexuality? Isn't Catholicism so cool among right-wingers that Republican politicians from the heartland of Protestantism, like Kansas governor Sam Brownback, have converted, with no damage to their careers?
"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," Francis told reporters aboard the papal plane in response to a specific question about the presidential candidate, according to Reuters' account. "This is not in the gospel."
... At a campaign rally in South Carolina, Trump fired back, remarking that "if and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS," the pope will wish he was president.
Trump's campaign issued a full statement moments later, in which he called the pope's questioning of his faith "disgraceful."
"If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which as everyone knows is ISIS’s ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been President because this would not have happened. ISIS would have been eradicated unlike what is happening now with our all talk, no action politicians," he said in the statement.
Well, yes -- right-wingers like the right-wing parts of Catholicism. They don't like the empathetic part, or any other part that conflicts with the conservative agenda. And they're not shy about saying so.
Before the Trump campaign started, Fox News defined the acceptable limits of conservatism, and Fox has gone after the pope on more than one occasion. Here's a FoxNews.com op-ed from 2013 titled "Pope Francis is the Catholic Church’s Obama -- God Help Us":
... Francis is beating a retreat for the Catholic Church, and making sure its controversial doctrines are whispered, not yelled -- no wonder the New York Times is in love.Last summer, Fox's Greg Gutfeld attacked Francis on the air:
Just like President Obama loved apologizing for America, Pope Francis likes to apologize for the Catholic Church....
In his interviews with those in the left-wing media he seeks to impress, Francis has said that the Church needs to stop being ‘obsessed’ with abortion and gay marriage, and instead of seeking to convert people, “we need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us.”
... On world matters, Francis’ statements are embarrassing. About communism, a destructive ideology that slaughtered millions of Catholics, he said:
“Learning about it through a courageous and honest person was helpful. I realized…an aspect of the social, which I then found in the social doctrine of the Church."
Not such kind words for the free market, however. In his recent apostolic exhortation he slammed unfettered capitalism, calling it ‘a new tyranny.’
... there is more real tyranny in socialist cesspools like Francis’ home of Argentina than in places where capitalism is predominant.
Fox News personality Greg Gutfeld accused Pope Francis of being “the most dangerous person on the planet” because he is seeking “strange new respect” from adversaries on climate change.A few months later, shortly before Francis's speech to the U.S. Congress, Judge Andrew Napolitano wrote in a FoxNews.com op-ed that Francis is a "false prophet," citing a list of offenses:
On Tuesday night’s episode of The Five, the panel discussed the pontiff’s leaked encyclical that warns of “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” unless drastic changes to lifestyle and energy consumption are made globally. Gutfeld accused the pope of having a “Marxist” background and Malthusian belief system.
“And that is what the Pope is doing. He doesn’t want to be your grandfather’s pope. He wants to be a modern pope. All he needs is dreadlocks and a dog with a bandanna and he could be on Occupy Wall Street,” Gutfeld ranted....
Now, here comes Pope Francis to use moral relativism to take the Church in two dangerous directions. The first is an assault on the family, and the second is an assault on the free market -- two favorite political targets of the left.It's not just Fox. I don't see much anger directed at Breitbart for its current story on the pope, written by Ben Shapiro and titled "Pope Francis Rips Capitalism, American Immigration Policy at Mexican Border." The comments are very Trump-y:
In the past month, without consulting his fellow bishops, the pope has weakened the sacrament of matrimony by making annulments easier to obtain....
It gets worse.
The Church has taught for 400 years that abortion is murder. Because the victim of an abortion is always innocent, helpless and uniquely under the control of the mother, abortion removes the participants from access to the sacraments. Until now. Last week, Pope Francis, without consulting his fellow bishops, ordered that any priest may return those who have killed a baby in a womb to the communion of the faithful. He said he did this because he was moved by the anguished cries of mothers contemplating the murder of their babies.
I doubt he will defend these decisions before Congress. He will, instead, assault the free market, which he blames for poverty, pollution and the mass migrations into Europe away from worn-torn areas in the Middle East.
Shapiro has felt free to attack Francis at Breitbart. His piece after the pope's speech before Congress was titled "Pope Francis Slams Capitalism, Death Penalty, Immigration Law; No Real Mention of Abortion, Gay Marriage." No one's accused him of hating Christianity, as far as I know.
You have to remember that right-wing Catholics have been attacking Francis for some time now, and not being shy about it, as an AP story noted in December:
While Francis remains enormously popular among most rank-and-file Catholics, a small but vocal group of conservatives who have never much cared for his radical agenda have grown increasingly strident in criticizing the pope now that there is little doubt left about his priorities.So, yeah, Trump will be fine -- as usual.
They have taken aim at the just-concluded synod on family issues, where the divisive issue of Communion for the civilly remarried took center stage. They have raised alarm at Francis' call for a more decentralized church and his loosening of the Vatican's marriage annulment process. They have winced at his environmental alarmism, wondered what's in store for Catholic orthodoxy in this Holy Year of Mercy and blasted as sacrilege the recent screening of nature shots on St. Peter's Basilica.
The Remnant, a small, traditionalist U.S. newspaper, last week penned an open letter begging Francis to change course or resign, arguing that his papacy was "causing grave harm to the church." ...
"You have given many indications of an alarming hostility to the church's traditional teaching, discipline and customs, and the faithful who try to defend them, while being preoccupied with social and political questions beyond the competence of the Roman Pontiff," the newspaper said. "This appalling situation has no parallel in church history."