Should a Pope be involved in endorsing a political candidate of any nation?
First, what is the job of being – Pope?
His role has muted over the centuries, from one of supreme power over all, including kings and rulers, to that of a spiritual guide for those within the Catholic faith. Their history is mired with political schisms, conquests, moral issues, and a failing prestige that ultimately split the church between the Orthodox and the West.
It wasn’t until the fifteen hundreds that the Papacy set about for a strident reform of the role of the Pope. As the Supreme Pontiff, his role became that of “Bridge Builder” as opposed to a regulator of power and doctrine. He was called to unite the people as one instead of act for the aristocracy of a few. And in so doing, the Pope became a servant rather than a ruler.
But in a country that is constantly decrying a separation of church and state, it would appear our esteemed Pope feels differently. Making statements regarding climate change, political candidates, and now even authorizing contraception in certain circumstances given the Zika virus, this Pope has immersed himself in a number of challenging political ideals that some feel crosses the line. When denouncing the political solution of a wall between the US and Mexico, the Pope apparently forgot that the Vatican is a ‘walled city’. And perhaps it is for this type of hiccup speech that the Pope should not involve himself in the everyday politics of a country and confine himself to the religious guardianship of souls.
While other recent Popes have taken a stance on various ‘human rights’ issues, they have maintained a respective distance before involving themselves in everyday politics. In the 80’s when Pope John II got involved in the political strife within Nicaragua, he was sanctioned and suspended. But again, this was leaning more toward ‘human rights’ than true politics. Chastising Bill Clinton for his stance on ‘pro-choice’ was even considered a bit tender.
But challenging a person’s Christian faith is more than a bit odd given the global atheist climate in Europe and Canada where nearly anything goes including extra-marital affairs, sanctioned abortions, living together outside of marriage, etc…and not just the general population, built the leaders as well. So why would the Pope condemn Donald Trump? It crosses the religious protectorate of judgment.
Why would the Pope not chastise Clinton for her pro-abortion stance? Obama for gay marriage? The entertainment industry on – well – everything! Why not Hollande for his multiple affairs? Turkey’s Erdogan for ethnic cleansing? The political climate of this world is rife with hypocrisy when compared to the Gospel, and it is possibly for this reason alone that the Pontiff should be careful climbing into the shark tank and making judgmental statements about one.
The Pope making a ‘Congressional Address’ this past September was unnerving in that it signaled a potential desire to not just skirt US politics, but to revive power. Power as defined by Pope’s centuries ago when their own interests were driven by wealth and control. The move inspired guesses that the Pontiff would create support for capitalism, and the bargaining chips were played and replayed. But others were more wary, questioning this interference in the political agenda. Still others have trouble with the skirmishes, financial fraud, and sexual behavior within the church and feel those ‘human rights’ need more attention. As in the Log in one’s own eye…
And while the Pope clearly supports charity and toward the poor, the Catholic Church holds vast resources at bay from the poor – estimates range from $15 billion – not including real estate holdings, artwork, jewelry etc – to $20 billion. Because the Vatican has no responsibility to divulge this information, it is only a guess, but the accumulation is definitely quite vast and hardly transparent.
It is for these reasons that the Pontiff needs to remain distant in the political structures of the globe, the hypocrisy can only become more self evident and create more distance than the main articulate of the church – to bring together, to bridge, not just the people, but the Vatican as well. And as for Trump, sometimes it is best to – pause.