Sticking up for Trump

Published 11:38 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2016

It’s not often I can side with Donald Trump. Frankly, most of his conduct disgusts me and his proposal to deport 12 million illegal immigrants would be absurdly impossible to execute.

It’s equally unusual for me to criticize Pope Francis. As a life-long Catholic, I believe he is one of the best and most effective popes God has ever blessed us with since Jesus Himself walked this earth.

Yet, in a classic “man bites dog” scenario, the Holy Father apparantly hasn’t thought through his comment this week about Trump’s proposed wall to keep illegal immigrants from crossing our southern border.

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After visiting the U.S.-Mexican border, Pope Francis said this about Trump: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian. This is not the gospel.”

Ironically enough, the Pope said this to reporters as he was flying back to Vatican City, a sovereign nation enclosed by a very thick high wall. In fact, the Vatican City wall is much higher and thicker than the one Trump proposes and very effectively keeps people from entering illegally or without proper credentials.

Carrying on a five century tradition, Pope Francis also has highly trained Swiss guards who carry lethal weapons to insure that people don’t enter the Vatican illegally. You can’t even jog across Vatican Square at dawn without getting stopped. I tried to do that myself once and was quickly stopped by a Swiss Guard brandishing a very large, sharp spear who curtly told me: “No, no, no, this is not possible!” In our crazy world fraught with terrorism and assassination danger, that kind of security makes perfect sense to me. Yet, now Pope Francis is criticizing Trump for building a wall to keep illegal aliens out of our country for exactly the same reasons.

You can agree with Trump or disagree with him. But the Pope should not question his Christian faith for proposing something he is already doing himself. To further add to the irony, Pope Francis is the first Jesuit pope, a member of the Society of Jesus. The New Testament is filled with events where Jesus criticized high priests for saying one thing and doing another. Jesus also respected lawful civil authority and taught us to do the same.

So what would Jesus do about illegal immigration? I know He would want us to care for the immigrants who are already here regardless of their legal status. But I think he would prefer LEGAL immigration for all, the way my Catholic ancestors came here when they fled religious persecution. I believe Jesus would also respect a country’s right to protect its sovereign borders the way Pope Francis is already doing and the way Trump proposes doing. As America’s great Twentieth Century poet Robert Frost wrote: “Before I built a wall I’d ask to know what I was walling in or walling out.” In each case, Pope Francis and Donald Trump both want to wall out people attempting to enter illegally.

If I’m wrong about that, than we should remove the phrase “In God We Trust” from our national currency. Without secure borders, our nation will effectively cease to exist. If so, future legal immigrants will have nowhere to go since they are obviously not at all welcome at the Vatican. If the Holy Father wants to practice what he is preaching then, to paraphrase President Reagan: “Pope Francis: tear down your wall.”