Again, The Pope Is An Ethics Dunce, And Again, Someone Is Ticking Me Off By Making Me Defend Donald Trump

handogod1It is unethical to punch down, you see.

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.”

Oh, snap!

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.

24 thoughts on “Again, The Pope Is An Ethics Dunce, And Again, Someone Is Ticking Me Off By Making Me Defend Donald Trump

  1. Exactly. It seems like the Pope has the same politics as Obama. To the detriment of the Church in the same way Obama is a detriment to America. Incredibly stupid even if it’s being done on purpose.

  2. When all you have is a hammer, problems tend to all look like nails.

    When you are the Supreme Bridge Builder (Pontiff Maximus), anyone who proposes building walls must be wrong.

  3. Unless he wants to put Trump on trial for heresy and order up a stake, (which obviously I would oppose) his Christianity and our elections are really none of Francis’ business. One wonders if popes have that concept though.

  4. Again, an amazing graphic. I always marvel at your ability to find just the perfect one for each post.

    I don’t know why the Pope slams the US for ‘building walls’. It’s not the right of anybody in the world to just walk into the US. No other country allows it, why should the US? He should be blasting Mexico, Honduras and other nations for doing little about the conditions that cause people to try and immigrate illegally, the poverty, drug problems, the corruption…

  5. Jack,
    Arguments over the nature of redemption and salvation aside, Trump likely ISN’T a Christian in any meaningful sense of the term. He displays all the classic sins without guilt or repentance. Hell, the man actively revels in his own iniquity. Thus, calling him out on his apparent lack of belief or practice doesn’t seem too far out of bounds for the man who heads the largest Christian union in the world.

    Francis says a lot of silly (that word rarely refers to actual humor anymore, by the way — I know Berra was making a joke, but the message was still silly for reasons unrelated to the supposed humor) things but that’s kind of the modus operandi for moralizers. Popes have acted as mouthpieces for all sorts of ideologies in the past — it’s what they do. What happened to “fish gotta swim”? The only real difference (as I can see it) with Francis is that his mouthpiece falls a bit further left of center than previous pontiffs.

    • Punching down, Neil. The Pope shouldn’t criticize, me, you, the United States policies or Presidential candidates. Not his business, arrogant, imprudent, irresponsible. And again, it influences US voters—the wrong way.

      It is irrelevant that he has expertise in Christianity. He isn’t empowered to get in pissing matches with reality stars, or to denigrate US citizens. That’s not his job, and out of his job, he doesn’t matter.

    • Jack handles this well, but let’s say you are right, that the pope does get to condemn someone else’s Christian bona fides…

      You just listed plenty of options to legitimately question Trump’s sincerity. Yet, the pope picked Trump’s opinion on halting immigration as his anti-Christian sin?

      Come now… It was a political statement. Not at all an assessment of the state of Trump’s soul.

  6. Come now… It was a political statement. Not at all an assessment of the state of Trump’s soul.

    To Francis is there a difference? Popes are theocrats.

    • Probably. It may make a difference whether or not the Pope is speaking ex cathedra…

      Nonetheless, what a theocrat says in his own nation pertaining to religion can be political as well. But he wasn’t saying anything in his own nation…

  7. When’s the IRS going to go after the American Roman Catholic Church’s tax exempt status because it’s become a forum for explicit political advocacy?

    I was raised as Irish Catholic as could be and Francisco is effortlessly turning me into a Grade A anti-Papist. Maybe he can visit Cuba at the same time as our President does. Rrrrrrr.

  8. Somebody *has* to knock down Trump a couple of rungs, but Francis was the absolutely worst person to do so (except for a resurrected Hitler and maybe a few others). Really, this is the kind of thing that instead of helping will only make the Donald more popular. Why doesn’t anybody think the obvious consequences of their actions?

  9. I was going to give the Pope a pass on this because I listened to the question in Spanish and then the Pope’s comments in Spanish. He may not have known that the reporter was referring to Trump but the Pope should have been more circumspect. While the Pope’s comments were inappropriate, the reporter’s question was even more inappropriate and unethical. The reporter set the entire question up as to stoke Latino anti-Trump sentiment.

    jvb

  10. I really don’t see how the Pope criticizing Donald Trump is “punching down.” Trump may not be as powerful as the Pope, but he is extremely powerful relative to most American citizens, and he’s a public figure. I’m unaware of any ethical principle that says public figures shouldn’t criticize other public figures unless they share the exact same amount of power and followers.

    • 1. Well, then you don’t get “punching down.” That’s called bullying, abuse of power. It violates the Golden Rule.

      2. Do you understand why foreign leaders shouldn’t involve themselves in our politics? Do you get THAT? Also a Golden Rule matter. Gee, is it unfair to expect the Pope to comprehend the Golden Rule? You know, I’d say that someone who doesn’t understand the Golden Rule isn’t very Christian…

      3. “Trump may not be as powerful as the Pope, but he is extremely powerful relative to most American citizens, and he’s a public figure.” Well, the last is true. Trump Has NO power at all! He can’t affect my life…he can’t pass laws, he can’t announce that God just revealed the truth. Trump may not be as powerful as the Pope? Are you insane?

      4. So you think, if a major rock star, a religious leader, or a US Senator decides to announce to the world that you are an untrustworthy fool, that’s not UNFAIR, not IRRESPONSIBLE and not AN ABUSE OF POWER AND POSITION? This doesn’t resonate as an ethics breach, and a serious one? And after you have been hounded and attacked and flamed and harassed by strangers who follow that figure as the source of light and wisdom, you would still call that ethical? President Obama can attack you, or me, just because?

      5. The demarcation isn’t just between public and private citizens, it’s between those with formal, government or institutional power and private citizens, and Trump still is one.

      Wow.

      • Jack: “Trump Has NO power at all! He can’t affect my life…he can’t pass laws, he can’t announce that God just revealed the truth. Trump may not be as powerful as the Pope? Are you insane?”

        I’m tempted to turn that last question back around on you. You can’t possibly believe that “Trump has no power at all.” Billionaires have no power in American society? Presidential candidates with huge poll numbers have no power in American society? Celebrities have no power in society? Absurd. You may as well say Kim Kardashian has no power at all. Trump isn’t a legislator, but he still has a ton of power and influence.

        “4. So you think, if a major rock star, a religious leader, or a US Senator decides to announce to the world that you are an untrustworthy fool, that’s not UNFAIR, not IRRESPONSIBLE and not AN ABUSE OF POWER AND POSITION?”

        I am not a public figure. Trump is. Huge difference.

        “The demarcation isn’t just between public and private citizens, it’s between those with formal, government or institutional power and private citizens, and Trump still is one.”

        I guess I don’t see why that demarcation should separate “people who can be criticized by world leaders” and “people who cannot.” So Elizabeth Warren can’t criticize Martin Shkreli? It’s unethical for Rudy Guliani to criticize Beyonce? That’s silly. The merits of their criticism may be right or wrong, but it isn’t prima facie unethical for them to engage in criticism of these people just because they are in government and their targets are not. Their targets are still hugely influential people in our society, and they are willingly engaging in public conversations about national and world affairs.

        This strikes me as especially weird when it comes to presidential candidates. Trump may not have the power to sign laws and make executive orders now, but that’s exactly what he is competing to be able to do.

        “2. Do you understand why foreign leaders shouldn’t involve themselves in our politics? Do you get THAT?”

        Sure, but that’s a completely separate argument from “punching down.”

        • 1. We are talking about social and political power. Billionaires have power over their own businesses. They have no power over individuals. If Bill Gates attacks me, who cares? Legal power, not power by breaking the law. Billionaires don’t have followers.

          2. OK, what’s special about Martin Shkrelli? He has done something that the US Senate has a legitimate interest in preventing, and maybe even making illegal. He is also a criminal. Lawmakers are not outside their position by criticizing criminals. Harry Reid, however, is punching down when he attacks the Koch Brothers. Obama is punching down when he attacks Fox News and Sean Hannity. These are lawful, private citizens, and bringing the power of the government–or a world religion—against them is horribly wrong, Grand bullying.

          3. Rudy and B. are both private citizens and celebrities. Same level. If Rudy were Mayor of New York? It it were Loretta Lynch or Obama, or John McCain? Fouls all. They represent the government, and the government may not squelch private speech by officially condemning it.

          4. It’s not silly, for this is a dangerous abuse of power, allowing those with the full force of the government to point citizen favor away from some and toward others, based on nothing but their own desires. Not their job, not their position, not their prerogative.

          5. The head of a World religion is exactly as ethically constrained regarding meddling in nation affairs as a head of state,and the Pope is both.

          • “Billionaires don’t have followers.”

            Donald Trump doesn’t have followers? If only that were true.

            We aren’t going to agree that a government official criticizing someone amounts to using government power to “squelch private speech.” Condemning speech verbally is not the same as using the law to restrict that speech, nor is it the same as using government power against them. If those things were the same, then the former would be just as illegal and unconstitutional as the latter. It’s not, and the reason it isn’t is because they are materially different.

            • God, Chris, look at practice, tradition and history. It isn’t done, or wasn’t until Obama started doing it, and there’s a reason: it’s totalitarian bullshit, using government power against the law abiding. How can that escape you? What would you call it? Government speech, official speech IS conduct. You keep defaulting to law: many things are wrong that can’t be prohibited by law effectively. Why do you think Nixon was reviled over having an enemies list? It’s the same principle. The mayoral attacks on Chic-Fil_A were unethical for the same reason. Government power is wielded in the words of government officials. A government official attack implies bad citizenship and societal shunning. Donald Trump still only speaks for Donald Trump, not a state or a religion.

              Franky, I find your position dangerous and alarming.

              • As I recall it, the mayoral attacks on Chick-fil-A were wrong because the mayor (or two? I can’t recall) expressly said he would use his power as mayor to keep their business out of his town. That was tyranny. I have no objection to a mayor expressing condemnation for a CEO’s words, however.

                I have even less objection to a government official–of any government–condemning someone who is running for government office. Your argument, taken at face value, would mean that even the Republican senators and governors running for president couldn’t condemn Trump or Carson, because those two do not (yet) hold any kind of government office. It would also mean Obama would be acting unethically by condemning any of Romney’s comments when he ran against him in 2012, since at that time Romney was no longer governor, but a private citizen. Surely you don’t believe that.

                I’m more sympathetic to the argument that foreign leaders shouldn’t condemn our presidential candidates, but that seems secondary to your main argument.

                • “I have even less objection to a government official–of any government–condemning someone who is running for government office. Your argument, taken at face value, would mean that even the Republican senators and governors running for president couldn’t condemn Trump or Carson, because those two do not (yet) hold any kind of government office. It would also mean Obama would be acting unethically by condemning any of Romney’s comments when he ran against him in 2012, since at that time Romney was no longer governor, but a private citizen. Surely you don’t believe that.”

                  Nothing in the post suggested that, either. It was about the Pope, the head of a world religion and a foreign head of state. If someone enters politics, political criticism from other politicians, high or low, is fair game, but punching down still is wrong: Obama shouldn’t be using his power and influence to influence local school board elections

                  The mayors (three of them) attacked a citizen’s company because of his legal, protected political views that did not affect their city or laws in any way. Yes, that’s abuse of power and position, and using government to stifle thought and speech.

                  • Here, I’ll summarize it:

                    Government officials should not attack law abiding citizens by name for their opinions or beliefs…

                    Powerful individuals of any kind should not “punch down,” which is a form of bullying. Punching down means that the attacker has more power, faces no risk in attacking, has larger numbers of followers, and has a bigger megaphone.

                    Heads of world organizations of immense power, wealth and influence, with delusions of divinity, should not attack relatively powerless individuals in their personal capacities.

                    Foreign leaders on any kind should not meddle in US politics by attacking individual candidates by name.

                    To engage in any of this conduct is unfair, irresponsible, and an abuse of power and position.

  11. Jack wrote: “An ethical Pope would know that.”

    Jack wrote: “Heads of world organizations of immense power, wealth and influence, with delusions of divinity, should not attack relatively powerless individuals in their personal capacities.”
    ______________________

    The notion of the Christian revelation is that spiritual power is given to man through Grace to then act in the world according to ‘divine principles’. Obviously the notion of a Pope as spiritual leader, and one invested with spiritual power, and the whole structure of belief of Catholicism, and Christianity, and any and every religious view, represents a ‘delusion of divinity’. And anyone who therefor imagined himself to have a connection or relationship with God or divinity would – by extension – be unethical to think and believe that. To have such a view of oneself would be unethical. To believe that such a relationship is possible would be unethical.

    What then is the ethical choice?

    Unless I am mistaken Papa Francisco comes out of the more Marxist strain of liberation theology, and that strain of theology incorporated economic theory into theological and ethical praxis. That movement was especially strong in Latin America (but also in Africa and Asia). My understanding is that the Church chose to veer away from such overt political involvement overt the last 20-30 years. But with Francisco it seems to be rushing back in. For many Catholics, I have read, Francisco has become relevant, and made the Church relevant to them again, because he is taking specific stands. But this happens by taking stands in relation to ‘contingent specifics’ and less in respect to ‘spiritual absolutes’.

    A Catholic who practices his or her religion would desire for the supreme representative to take specific stands on political and economic issues and questions (contingent issues of the day). Not to take a specific stand would by definition be unethical.

    The Catholic Church has developed, over centuries, an entire and full position of social doctrine, and this social doctrine is wedded with Occidental social conceptions and doctrines. This is certainly as much a part of Protestant theology as it is Catholic theology. To be either Catholic or Christian is to think in these terms, which is to say to imagine ‘what God wants’ in the world and where things are tending, as well as what, exactly, inhibits a better world from taking shape. Everyone knows what opposed Jesus …

    My impression is that the Left, speaking generally, takes the position of defining a social doctrine which is in essence religious in origin. It is the attempt to ‘have a conscience’ and to act conscientiously in the world, isn’t it?

    While I think I understand your position and your platform as one if not of ‘atheism’ then of a total separation of religiously derived ‘cant’ from the affairs of the day and from life, I do not think that your position is very common at all. I mean that most people, inside themselves perhaps, and perhaps hidden, see and understand themselves as ‘agents of divinity’ in the world. And they would all naturally ask themselves ‘What is the correct way to act, think and see’ the world. A very large percentage of Americans, for example, see themselves as directly connected with God (if you believe Harold Bloom). Unless you can imagine a separation between the ‘inner man’ and the ‘outer man’ I cannot see how ‘delusions of divinity’ (if I understand what you mean) are avoidable.

    On an abstract plane – since everything that is tangible and this-wordly is bitterly fought over and contested – one seems to require the concept of divinity (divine order, divine potential, divine will) which provides to man at least ideally the possibility of a perfected world, a perfected life: sanctification. But the very second that one person or group declares its plan for terrestrial ethics, some other person or group rises up in opposition. Nothing is ever decided.

    Just a few typical random thoughts. Not need to respond.

    Anyway, I’ll take my answer on the Astral Plane …

  12. I guess it was the inclusion of ‘with delusions of divinity’ that sparked my comments then.

    I will suppose (based on your other comments) that Francisco would be within his rights to carefully outline a Christian critique of policies and choices (of exclusion or whatever it is he feels is ‘unchristian’) such as Trump’s if it were in a general statement, not a specific one directed to a specific individual.

    It does seem to me though that given the enormous power of the US, and the importance of anything that happens here on the rest of the world, that it cannot be reasonably asked that foreigners do not offer opinions on events and developments here. I do understand that you mean ‘meddling’ and not ‘careful commentary’ with reasoned arguments.

    Francisco’s comments, to me, seem outrageous because they are wrong-headed but also because he appears to act not from strong principle but, like Trump and many others, from a popular idiocy. And thus he lowers the standard of his office to that of a reality TV star, in effect.

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