Building walls or bridges: The paradox of faith, politics

By Osmond Ekwueme

A lot has been said about Pope Francis questioning Trump’s faith. The controversy over whether Trump is a Christian or espouses Christian values, however, is legitimate because he and virtually every other candidate proclaim that Christianity is their guidepost for public service. As I listen to their racist, sexist, xenophobic and elitist proclamations I harkened back to the once popular bracelets, WWJD (What Will Jesus Do). Do they really believe that they represent what Jesus would do? I shudder to think so.
Donald Trump was right when he said that no one should question another person’s faith or religion in politics. Of course, it’s enormous hypocrisy on his part, since he is so negative toward Muslims, but he makes a very good point in saying it. However, if there is anyone whose actual job it is to make a ruling on whether something is consistent with Christian morals and ethics or not, it’s the Pope. If am reading this right and in context, the Pope did not say that trump is not “a” Christian. He alluded that Trump’s behaviors are not Christian. Isn’t it about time that Christian leaders started pointing out blatantly unchristian behavior by their followers? Isn’t this one of the actual responsibilities of Christian leadership?
He was set up by a journalist who asked a “Christian or not a Christian” sort of question, about a Trump political idea. Trump wasn’t mentioned by name. The Pope’s answer was a criticism of a behavior or attitude not consistent with the human compassion expected of a Christian person. Trump doesn’t have to agree with him politically, but His Holiness wasn’t out of line to make the call. The Pope wasn’t questioning anyone’s faith, he was just saying that anyone who is into building walls and not bridges, metaphorically speaking, is not a Christian. Many politicians pay lip service to Christianity, but in their deeds they are not Christians. There is no equivalency between Pope Francis and Trump. It is sweet irony that some politicians are criticizing the Pope for saying that such and such behavior is not Christian way of behaving when for seven years they have been saying Obama is not a Christian.
I am a lifelong Roman Catholic Christian of almost more that 5 decades and I pray that the Good Lord will continue to protect and bless Pope Francis. Catholics everywhere and especially here in USA should not be in a fetal position but instead say something when His Holiness is being vilified.
Some people posted a photo of Vatican City with encircled wall inside the city of Rome and that as a head of State he should keep his opinion out of American politics. I don’t know about the emphasis on the wall surrounding Vatican City…suppose to be insulting to the Pope. Arguing and splitting hairs, about a Wall built centuries ago (circa, ninth century ago). Just like every city in medieval period London, Paris and Jerusalem comes to mind. This is not the same as building a wall in this 21st century between USA and Mexico. Is this a discussion on the validity of the 200 year old Constitution? Pope Francis did not build it in the 21st century as Trump plans to do, so it is just red herring. It is true that the Pope is a head of State but he is also the head of the Catholic Church, and a moral authority, in addition to being the head of a city-state. Since some politicians are requiring the insertion of Christianity in American politics and the Constitution, then they also invite the Pope to weigh in with the 70 million Catholics in this country. I am a Catholic, but personally I would prefer to keep religion out of politics, however I do love having a moral leader help read the Bible to those, who twist it and use it to abuse others, or for their own personal gain. They deserve to have the Pope call them out for the hypocrites they are.
Some even questioning if Catholics are Christians…you can’t make this stuff up. This is sadly true. I had to tell my ‘Christian’ friend that Catholics were the first Christians. The very simple litmus test is this, are you a follower of Christ in words and more importantly in deeds? Clarifies: Do you love in all that you say and do? Are you striving to love with every breath and every step? These are the actions of a Christian. The Sermon on the Mount, in the Bible, Matthew 5 is very useful in guiding those who would strive to follow Christ. I pray that we will ALL love the way Christ did.
The Pope has not been building walls; he has been traveling around the world building bridges between faiths and nations. He has been advocating issues of interest to the poorest people across the world. He has challenged his own church (Roman Catholic Church) to embrace reform and evolve in its thinking. Yes indeed, Pope Francis is an example of a strong, principled man who has demonstrated what it means to be a Christian. If a wise and holy man were to tell me that I was heading in the wrong direction…I would at least shut my mouth and look in the mirror. Picking a fight with the leader of one of the world’s largest Christian denominations, doesn’t seem like a smart idea.
Never was the truth more told, verified by the first Epistle of John : viz “If anyone says, I love God, but keeps on hating his brother, he is a liar; for if he does not love his brother who is right there in front of him, how can he love God whom he has never seen” 1 John 4:20.

Osmond Ekwueme MD., PhD
Knight of Columbus, Wisconsin (USA)

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Posted by on Mar 20 2016. Filed under Community News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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