Wondering After The Beast

A year after he called Pope Francis "disgraceful" for criticising his intention to build a wall along the Mexican border, Donald Trump was more pleasant in his first meeting with the leader of the world's Catholics.

The US President appeared to be keen to bury the hatchet, after a highly public 2016 war of words with the Latin American pontiff over his plans for a border wall.

The Pope had said that anyone intent on building walls rather than bridges was “not Christian”, a remark that the then presidential candidate called “disgraceful.”

But that was largely forgotten – or at least ignored – when the President swept up to St Peter’s Square in a 50-vehicle motorcade, riding in the heavily-armored black car nicknamed ironically “The Beast”.

The 30-minute meeting was held behind closed doors and exactly what was discussed was not disclosed. 

In a broad statement, the Vatican said the two leaders had “cordial discussions” about international affairs, “with particular reference to the situation in the Middle East and the protection of Christian communities.” 

The Pope has repeatedly expressed concern for the plight of Christians in the region – a sentiment echoed by the President in Saudi Arabia a few days ago.  In a speech in Riyadh at the start of his nine-day international trip, Mr Trump called on Arab leaders to stand up to Islamist extremism and to stop “the slaughter of Christians”. 

But there remains much that divides the two men, from their views on capitalism and refugees to climate change and the building of the border wall. 

The Pope gave the president an English translation of Laudato Si, an encyclical he wrote in 2015 on the environment – a pointed gift, given that Mr Trump has threatened to withdraw the US from the 2015 Paris accord on combating climate change.

Whether Francis will succeed in changing the President's mind on the geopolitical environmental shakedown known as CAGW, remains to be seen.  In any case, aligning with the Vatican on matters of substance--while politically expedient--is prophetically perilous.  We will be watching these developments.

"I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols" (Isaiah 42:8).

"We are of the conviction that the papacy is the seat of the true and real Antichrist" (Martin Luther).