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From Urbi to Orbi and Back Again

From Urbi to Orbi and Back Again

No. 2, Nov.-Dec. 2016 » UNCOVERstory

Donald Trump’s victory and uneventful transition into the White House may give people a chance to resettle their nerves and take stock of where they are politically in this “brave new world”.

The presidential elections in the US have become a global political spectacle, watched with bated breath by German executives, Chinese billionaires, the Pope in Rome, Wall Street traders, NATO allies and Russian journalists. The stakes are high for everybody. Donald Trump’s victory and uneventful transition into the White House may give people a chance to resettle their nerves and take stock of where they are politically in this “brave new world”.

Reaping the whirlwind

While Donald Trump was still a candidate derided as a certain loser in the race for the primaries, let alone the White House, the Pope severely criticized his plan to build a border wall with Mexico. While travelling back from Mexico, in February 2016, the Pope declared: “A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges is not Christian.”

The Pontiff said that his greatest disquiet comes from the fates of migrants and refugees, professing himself to be worried about Donald Trump’s campaign promises regarding the wall and migrants and refugees in general. Subsequently, a spokesperson of the Vatican clarified that the Pope was not attacking the Republican Party, rather expressing his support and commitment for those less fortunate. The reaction of the then-candidate Donald Trump did not take long to burst onto the stage, sending a message the Pope will not soon forget:

“For a religious leader to question a person’s faith is disgraceful. I am proud to be a Christian and as President I will not allow Christianity to be consistently attacked and weakened, unlike what is happening now, with our current President. No leader, especially a religious leader, should have the right to question another man’s religion or faith.”

The Christian’s candidate

A majority of American Catholics (52%) voted for Trump, while Hillary Clinton was preferred by Atheists and Agnostics (who are more likely to be liberal leaning). Only 45% of Catholics voted for her, despite strong local Catholic Church support for pro-migration ideology. Protestants voted 58% for Trump and 39% for Clinton, an important disparity given the majority status of Protestants and their role in the historic American nation.

Mike Pence, the Vicepresident-Elect, declares himself a Conservative Christian Republican, and was a linchpin of the Catholic voter drive for Trump. He lent the social capital of his image as a “family man and father with solid Christian values” to counterbalance the image generated by Donald Trump’s opponents of the President-Elect being a “harsh, unscrupulous and sinful man”.

The Obama Administration’s attitude towards practicing Christians and their sensibilities also played a role in favor of Trump, as did the behavior of progressive elites.

The Obama Administration’s attitude towards practicing Christians and their sensibilities also played a role in favor of Trump, as did the behavior of progressive elites, whose Hollywood Liberal wing (a redundancy, at this point), especially, supported issues such as abortion, gay marriage, surrogacy, while openly fomenting violence against Trump. Donald Trump is not especially socially conservative in the republican sense (he is pro-LGBT), however he has professed a respect for the sensibilities of the wishes of America’s religious communities, whereas the ascendant liberals were increasingly brazen about using the coercive power of the state to impose their views on everybody, as evidenced by the immense scandals of the past year regarding the use of bathrooms by transgendered people, specifically former men using women’s bathrooms. The perennial issue of culture wars and the yearly debate over the “War on Christmas”, which is a conflict over the public observance of Christian rites and traditions in an increasingly diverse and irreligious nations, also worked to Trump’s advantage, who did not hesitate to declare that he will bring “Merry Christmas” back to the fore.

Conciliatory approaches

Since the election, the Vatican has lapsed into a more balanced stance. State Secretary Pietro Parolin congratulated Trump for his victory and encouraged him to pursue peace and prosperity in the world, according to EFE and Reuters.

“We send our congratulations to the new President in the hope that his government may bear real fruit”. Trump can be “assured of our prayers that the Lord may enlighten and support him in the service of his country, but also in the service of peace and wellbeing in the world”. Cardinal Parolin also expressed his belief in the need for everyone to work to change the situation in the world today, which is one of “grave wounds, of serious conflicts”.

Pope Francis refused to express a personal opinion on Trump’s victory, but emitted a plea for combating poverty and confessed that he is interested in politics only insofar it affects the efforts to relieve poverty.

“I don’t make judgments on people and on politicians, I only want to understand what the sufferings are that their way of proceeding causes to the poor and excluded”, the Pope was quoted as saying by La Repubblica.

Pope Francis refused to express a personal opinion on Trump’s victory, but emitted a plea for combating poverty and confessed that he is interested in politics only insofar it affects the efforts to relieve poverty.

The traditional Urbi et Orbi message was sent from the balcony of the St. Peter’s Basilica, while ten thousand of the faithful attended Mass under the shadow of stringent security measures called for by the terrorist attack in Berlin. During his Christmas service, the Pontiff encouraged Catholics throughout the world to be compassionate towards the children suffering from wars and poverty. His message went out top global leaders, Trump included, exhorting them towards compromise and peace in the Middle East, Africa and other conflict areas. Regarding Syria, the Pope said that “it is time for weapons to be still forever and the international community to actively seek a negotiated solution, so that civil co-existence can be restored in the country”. He added “peace to men and women in the war-torn land of Syria where far too much blood has been spilled. Above all in the city of Aleppo, site of the most awful battles in recent weeks, it is most urgent that assistance and support be guaranteed to the exhausted civil populace, with respect for humanitarian law”.

With this declaration, Pope Francis emerges as a head of a sovereign state to weigh in on world crises and plead with leaders such as Donald Trump to succor the people suffering from hunger, the migrants braving danger and those under the guns of raging conflict in places such as Aleppo.

 
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