Pope Francis at the end of a six-day trip to Mexico made a comment about Trump. He said, "A person who thinks only about building walls... and not of building bridges, is not Christian". Addressing a rally in South Carolina, Mr Trump responded to the Pope's comments thus,
"For a religious leader to question a person's faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian," Mr Trump said. "No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man's religion or faith”.
It is good to note that both men spoke in a wider context from the bible and from their foundation and conviction of the Christian faith. Christianity as a religion believed in the inclusion rather than in the segregation between race, colour, gender, class and so forth. And also for the people in the privilege not to build a bridge but to help the less privileged ones. It was from that context that the Pope questioned the Christianity of Mr Trump. Mr Trump himself, speaking from the teaching of Christ who insisted that he came not to judge or condemn anyone, questioned on whose teaching should a Pope based to cast a stone on him.
The fact that the two spoke biblically and yet do not agree with each other brings to question those who believed that whatever matter should be resolved with the bible. But this is not the point of examination here.
Since Pope Francis and Mr Trump quoted from bible and yet disagreed, the question is: who among them is wrong and the other right?
Jerry Falwell Jr, the president of the conservative Christian Liberty University and a Trump supporter, told CNN that the Pope had gone too far. For him, “Jesus never intended to give instructions to political leaders on how to run a country,”. Excluding the Pope from political decisions echoed back the wide division in the contemporary thinking where religion has been pushed away from the public sphere, a situation known as secularism.
But the question is: Even though the political power is secular, what were the criterions/ the boundaries where the spiritual matters began and the political matters stopped or vice versa? Doesn’t spiritual matter involved the holistic wellbeing of the individual?
Pope Francis, although admitted being political in a tactical way by quoting Aristotle on man being a political animal, saw the issue as having a spiritual significance. In bible Christ didn’t just preach about the kingdom of God, he fed the poor and the needy. His forerunner, John the Baptism obviously was killed because he spoke about a social issue he saw as a religious matter.
So on what ground can we measure on the rightness and the wrongness of the two?
The answer to this depends from the angle one approaches the case. The demarcation between religious matters from political ones is but a thin line. And this calls to question whether there is anything called truth apart from the sincere bias of the one viewing the situation. Sincere because in inward, the actor believes he is not lying. Most often one’s believe depends deeply on where one’s interest lies. Should you switch the role of the two: Pope Francis and Trump, each will view the scenario in a new lens of the institution they represent and that will become their new truth and the other holding a contrary view the one with an error and wrongness.
Published by Ezeiyoke Peter