Figures of great prominence, popularity and power end up abusing all of that by denigrating, attacking and criticizing private citizens, including corporate citizens. When such individuals condemn others, they naturally focus the antipathy of their supporters on the targets, and since the targets never have similar hordes to support them, this is a grand variety of bullying….in fact, lets call it Grand Bullying.
Thus Pope Francis is ethically wrong to publicly attack Donald Trump. It’s also unbelievably stupid and petty, but never mind: we’ll just concentrate on unethical.
Trump, in one of his periodic moments of clarity—if you pew out random thoughts about everything all the time, it is like a million monkeys eventually typing “Hamlet;” the odds say that eventually something sensible will come out by accident—said that the Pope was “political” and that Francis “doesn’t understand America’s problems.” True…true. He also could have said that the Pontiff should stop meddling with U.S. illegal immigration and environmental policies when the principality that he heads doesn’t tolerate any of the former, and he has no practical reasons to be dubious about climate change, the Vatican having no jobs, industry, or trade-offs to consider. So the Pope felt that he had to respond, and when asked by a reporter, “Can a good Catholic vote for this man?” replied,
“Thank God he said I was a politician, because Aristotle defined the human person as ‘animal politicus.’ So at least I am a human person. As to whether I am a pawn — well, maybe, I don’t know. I’ll leave that up to your judgment and that of the people. And then, 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. As far as what you said about whether I would advise to vote or not to vote, I am not going to get involved in that. I say only that this man is not Christian if he said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
The Pope’s anti-Trump rhetoric is especially irresponsible because it represents a foreign leader trying to meddle in U.S. elections and politics. Oh, all right: it is stupid because it demeans Pope Francis and his office, and worst of all, it helps Trump. It helps Trump, first, by suggesting that Trump is the equal of the Pope, since the Pope, being who he is, would never be so unfair, unjust and unbelievably misguided—how can the Pope be misguided?—as to punch down.
The second way it helps Trump is that Americans traditionally don’t like their celebrities being insulted by outsiders, or having foreign big shots tell us who we should support. They tend to want to do exactly what they think the Big Shot wants them not to do, even if it means doing something stupid….you know, like voting for Donald Trump.
You don’t punch down, you don’t meddle in other nations’ politics, and you don’t abuse your office by saying things that make it any more likely that the human race is going to have to cope with a United States of America led by an ignorant fool who likes torture, mocks women and the handicapped, and has his thugs rough up protesters.
An ethical Pope would know that.