The recent spat between Donald Trump and Pope Francis has sparked a wave of criticisms from both sides as well as differing interpretations of the Pope’s own words.
The feud began after the Pope criticized Donald Trump over the wall he proposes to build across the U.S.-Mexican border.
Many news outlets have interpreted Pope Francis’s statement as insinuating Donald Trump is not “a” Christian for his proposals. The insertion of the “a” is important in determining whether Pope Francis is addressing Trump’s personal character or actions, and most news agencies reporting on the debacle included it recklessly. A single letter truly changed the meaning of what was said.
However, the real question surrounding the statements is whether Pope Francis was attacking Donald Trump himself for not being Christian, or attacking his policy. Even considering the misinterpretations perpetuated by some journalists, I agree with the former.
Reading the transcript seemed to suggest that Francis was calling Donald Trump out as not Christian, but what must really be regarded is whether Trump’s identity as Christian is being attacked or rather if something connected to Trump is being criticized.
Pope Francis was clear in in targeting Trump’s infamous wall, stating “And then, a person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian.” This not only centers upon the policy, but also the man behind the policy.
While Pope Francis is certainly attacking Trump’s policy, he is also attacking Trump for the policy. Not only has Pope Francis called the policy itself un-Christian, but also Trump for developing and consistently endorsing the policy.
So yes, I believe that Pope Francis is attacking Donald Trump as being un-Christian. Though many news sources likely jumped the gun and may have even misinterpreted Pope Francis’s words, I think they largely got the conclusion correct.