Donald Trump thinks Pope Francis is “too political” because he will visit a camp of migrants during his stop in Mexico.
This comes while Trump is seeking – and getting! – support from Christian voters. I bet he hates the idea of the Pope building showers and toilets in Rome for the homeless – those loafers – and speaking with tolerance about gays, asking “Who am I to judge?”
It seems clear to me that Trump does not have normal human compassion. His success with Americans as a sneering tyrant on a reality television show has further emboldened his unchecked infantile impulses.
Yet some Americans, professing religious values, fall for him.
He’s their kind of guy.
Trump’s criticism of Pope Francis reminds me of another papal trip to Mexico, which I covered, oh my goodness, 37 years ago.
The new Pope, John Paul II, in his first overseas trip, arrived in the Zócalo, the center of ancient Mexico City.
The Pope issued a call for the Catholic clergy of Latin America to get back in uniform and deliver the sacraments and not bring some semblance of self-determination to the poor. Don’t be political, in other words.
The coded words sent a message all over Latin America, allowing governments to clamp down on activism toward the poor, including in Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s native Argentina. This Pope has seen repression up close, has been deeply scarred by it.
The latest Trump outburst reminds me of Mexico in February of 1979 when I twice met Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador, who spurned luxuries and slept in a peasant hammock and encouraged help for the poor.
I wrote about my encounters with Romero a year ago:
I asked Romero whether the words from Mexico City did not put religious activists in trouble all over Latin America. His response was a somber yes, without any sign of fear or weakening. A year later he was assassinated while saying Mass.
Trump has surely never heard of Oscar Arnulfo Romero. I assume he knows nothing of the desaparecidos, the thousands of Argentines who were taken away, never to be seen again.
Trump knows gold-plated bathrooms and tactical bankruptcies and serial marriages.
The Pope builds toilets and showers for the homeless. In an ancient ritual of humility and service, he washes and kisses the feet of Muslims and convicts.
Trump wants to build a wall. Boasts that Mexico will pay for it.
And many Americans professing religious leanings are charmed by him.
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(Terrific article about Trump's world view:)
I write this not only out of admiration for The New York Times but out of love for Mexico.
Many years ago my wife and I took a day trip to Teotihuacán and climbed the thick steps of the Pyramid of the Moon. We stayed a long time on top, marveling at the view, and still recall how it was easier – less scary -- to climb down backwards.
We’ve never been back to Teotihuacán but I have returned to Mexico for work and pleasure. I consider it a dear neighbor.
On Tuesday I read every word of three full pages of superb reporting in the Times about the profanation of that holy place. The article documents how a branch of the American company, Wal-Mart of Arkansas, apparently sent cash to evade zoning laws designed to maintain the green belt around the Pyramid.
Wal-Mart officials apparently found officials in Mexico who would take the money, although other people were suspicious and opposed the new store that went up, that looms there still.
The journalism by the Times is compelling. Everything fits, everything sounds right. I am less upset with venal officials in Mexico who did not mind cheapening their patrimony than I am with the American corporation that overlooked clear signs this was happening. Wal-Mart. Nice folks.
I was going to fulminate about pompous flag-waving self-proclaimed job creators who tell how much good they do by accumulating riches. But read it for yourself, in case you missed it. It really is worth the effort.
David Vecsey's sweet tale of distant love before the Web, now NYT Podcast, narrated by Griffin Dunne. Please see:
George Vecsey is Hofstra University's Alumnus of the Month! Read a Q&A with George here.