The latest stop on President Trump’s first foreign trip is the Vatican where Trumpers will have us a believe all is well between their man and the pope. Don’t believe it for a second. Even if we do believe (which I don’t) that the testy exchange between Pope Francis and Trump over the then-candidate’s plan for a border wall is old news, there are plenty of other issues on which the two obviously are at odds.
The pope is the anti-Trump.
Trump met with Francis for about 30 minutes at the Vatican Wednesday, an audience at which the two exchanged gifts which themselves pointed to the problem the pontiff has with Trump.
Francis gave Trump copies of his writings including his encyclical on climate change. The two couldn’t view the issue more differently. Francis believes it is very real and a serious threat to the planet. Trump has said it’s a Chinese hoax.
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
The immigration issue is at the heart of the discord between the two leaders. We all remember the back and forth during the campaign. Francis lashed out at Trump over one of the pillars of Trump’s campaign—walling off the country to the south.
Back in February of last year, the pope told reporters, “I’d just say that this man is not Christian if he said it in this way,” Francis told reporters in a midflight press conference after a trip to Mexico. “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said, according to the Associated Press’ translation of the press conference.
Trump lashed back at the pope. “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,” Trump said in a statement released by his campaign.
“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful,” Trump said. Wow. These statements should never be discounted when evaluating the relationship between the two.
Let’s not also forget Trump’s henchman Steve Bannon’s moves to infiltrate the Vatican.
The pope is the polar opposite of trump of other issues as well:
• Income inequality. In September of 2013, the pope wrote on the issue, “[S]ome people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”
Trump’s all-out, unfettered, fixed-for-the-wealthiest capitalism is well known.
• Help for the poor. In Evangelii Gaudium Francis wrote, “In all places and circumstances, Christians, with the help of their pastors, are called to hear the cry of the poor…. Seeing their poverty, hearing their cries and knowing their sufferings, we are scandalized because we know that there is enough food for everyone and that hunger is the result of a poor distribution of goods and income.”
We need only to look to Trump’s just-released budget for his views on the poor. It decimates social programs for the poor, cutting billions in everything from meals-on-wheels to Medicaid to food stamps.
Pope Francis certainly has problems with the subjugation of women. Trump’s views on women can be gleaned from his hot-mic, Access Hollywood moment. He also just visited Saudi Arabia were he went out of his way to say the US will not lecture that country on its way of life which includes demanding that women not travel without a male family member or “guardian.”
In the kingdom, women need her guardian’s permission for: marriage and divorce, education, employment, opening a bank account, or things like elective surgery, particularly when sexual in nature.
If there is any common ground between Trump and the pope, it’s miniscule compared to their differences. If there is a glimmer of hope, it’s when Trump said to Francis at the end of their meeting, “I won’t forget what you said,” adding that the pope should call on him for help.