It feels like years ago

Already it feels like years.

It was just 13 months ago – Feb. 16, 2016 – that Pope Francis made news in Mexico after then candidate Donald Trump spoke of building a wall and making the Mexican government pay for it.

After saying Mass at the Mexican-U.S. border in February, the kindly Pope who named himself after Francis of Assisi, the advocate for the poor who prefers the Vatican guest house to the Pontiff’s palatial quarters, offered his view of the Christian life:

“A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel.”

Francis’s statement has firm roots in Christian Scripture and the tradition. Ambrose (c. 340 – 397), Bishop of Milan, one of the four early Doctors of the Church, for instance, declared that “giving to the poor was repayment of resources bestowed on everyone equally by the Creator but which have been usurped by the rich.”

It’s not just a matter of charity. It’s a matter of economic justice.

In a June 28, 2016 CNN interview candidate Mr. Trump said that, compared to the fortune the Mexicans are making off the the U.S., paying for a wall “is a tiny little peanut compared to that. I would do something very severe unless they contributed or gave us the money to build the wall.”

Today the billionaire candidate who promised “something very severe” if Mexico didn’t “give us the money to build the wall” is President of the United States and the Pope is still the Pope. Mexico has refused to pay for the wall. The President’s proposed budget includes money for the wall while cutting funding for programs on which low and middle-income Americans depend and funding for the State Department, the builder of diplomatic bridges among nations like Mexico and the United States.

As the President spends his weekend at Mara-Larg-O  with the bill sent to the tax-payers, I recall Francis’s response to Mr. Trump’s criticism. “At least I am a human person,” he said, adding that, as for being a pawn of the Mexican government, he’d leave that “up to your judgment and that of the people.”

The judgment was made on November 8, 2017. Four months later it feels like years.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, March 18, 2017.




This entry was posted in Life, Religion, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , by Gordon C. Stewart. Bookmark the permalink.

About Gordon C. Stewart

I've always liked quiet. And, like most people, I've experienced the world's madness. "Be Still! Departure from Collective Madness" (Wipf and Stock Publishers, Jan. 2017) distills 47 years of experiencing stillness and madness as a campus minister and Presbyterian pastor (IL, WI, NY, OH, and MN), poverty criminal law firm executive director, and social commentator. Our dog Barclay reminds me to calm down and be much more still than I would be without him.

8 thoughts on “It feels like years ago

  1. It seems to me that many, many Republicans have been seduced by Ayn Rand and Milton Friedman (both of them, in my very naive and not very Christian view, roasting along with Caligula, Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc.). Then I think of “no man can serve two masters,” and feel sure that the Catholic Republicans who suffer the Ayn-Rand worship syndrome deserve excommunication far, far more than those who help the poor but want to have women priests or married clergy. As corollary to this, or maybe this is the principle and the above are “symptoms,” I believe that totally free-market capitalism is incompatible with true Christianity.


  2. What I find hard to accept is that the Republican basic philosophy is totally at odds with mine. i.e., As I understand it, the goal for Republicans is to see everyone as responsible for his or her own life, fortune, and health. That it is not the responsibility of government to infantilize the population. I can agree with that, but, it also assumes equal opportunity, which is not supported as the 1% assumes control over monetary power and the poor are left to fight for the dregs. So, maybe I could agree with the basic philosophy except for that gross lack of equal opportunity. Their assumption is that a healthy economy will benefit everyone, but that doesn’t square with the facts.

    A huge part of my philosophy (if that’s a fair word for it) is not only that we have a moral obligation to help our neighbors, but that the real growth of the country depends on the health and welfare of the populace. It’s pretty darn hard to grow and prosper when you start out struggling to stay alive. OK. So we have a right to carry guns. What about the “common welfare.”

    In this time of major struggle, It may help to “get” that the basic goals are wildly opposite. To understand the current budget proposal and reaction to it, maybe we can fight it more effectively if we get that we are working from different views of morality

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mona – Yes, “we are working from different views of morality”. The question, or so it seems to me, is what lies beneath the different views? Is it Locke and Hobbes? The difference between a political philosophy that starts and ends with the individual and one that starts and ends with the society itself? Or is it something else?

      Whatever the answer to those questions, the spiritual-ethical bases of western civilization are Greek and Roman philosophical and Judeo-Christian moral traditions re: the relation of the part (the individual) to the whole (the society itself).

      Neither of these traditions (Greek-Roman and Judeo-Christian) severs the good of the part from the whole or the whole from the part. And, whatever arguments can be made about individual responsibility as well as rights, the moral teaching at the core is the love of neighbor as one’s own self.


    • Thanks for weighing in on this. This surely IS an untraveled route for this country! One impact, IMHO, is backlash from both sides of the aisle, which may mean a return to some kind of sanity and bi-partisan consensus about basic values. One can always hope, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

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