Donald Trump has somehow managed to bait His Holiness into a public fight:
Hours after praying for Mexican migrants who died trying to reach the United States, Pope Francis singled out Donald Trump, telling reporters aboard the papal plane that anybody who wants to build border walls “is not Christian.”
“A person who thinks only about building walls — wherever they may be — and not building bridges, is not Christian,” Francis said Thursday, according to a translation from the Associated Press. “This is not in the Gospel.”
He added: “I’d just say that this man is not Christian if he said it this way.”
According to ABC News, the Pope’s criticism of Trump was prompted by a reporter who asked: “Can a good Catholic vote for this man?” ABC’s account notes that the Pope demurred on that aspect of the question, by saying:
“About whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
You’ll be shocked to hear that this restraint did not cause Trump to temper his response in the slightest. Trump’s statement is worth quoting in full:
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.
The Mexican government and its leadership has made many disparaging remarks about me to the Pope, because they want to continue to rip off the United States, both on trade and at the border, and they understand I am totally wise to them. The Pope only heard one side of the story — he didn’t see the crime, the drug trafficking and the negative economic impact the current policies have on the United States. He doesn’t see how Mexican leadership is outsmarting President Obama and our leadership in every aspect of negotiation.
For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith. They are using the Pope as a pawn and they should be ashamed of themselves for doing so, especially when so many lives are involved and when illegal immigration is so rampant.
Let’s pause for a moment of silence to marvel at the degree to which Trump managed to stay on his core message here. Remember, the story that Trump has been telling for at least six months now has not changed. Our elites are failing you, because they are allowing you to be cheated by a whole cast of villains — illegals, multinational corporations, other countries (usually China, but more recently, Mexico, which Trump now says is “the new China”) — whether through stupidity, corruption, weakness, or some combination of the above.
In his response to the Pope, Trump hit every one of these buttons: Mexico wants to continue to “rip off” America; our stupid leaders continue to allow it to happen because they are getting “outsmarted”; Trump would not, because he is “wise” to the scam; and so, “they” (Trump’s word) have now enlisted the Pope “as a pawn” in keeping the scam going.
The only slight tweak to Trump’s storyline on display here is that he merely said the Pope was an unwitting victim of this scam, rather than suggesting that he is one of the elites who is actively complicit in it, either through corruption or weakness or stupidity (though arguably Trump did hint at the possibility of the latter two).
Oh, and for good measure, in his reply to the Pope, Trump also managed to reiterate his oft-repeated vow to Make Christianity Great Again.
Not even the Pope can knock Donald Trump off message.