Donald Trump, infamous for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, directed primarily at Hispanics, is about to get an earful from one of the most powerful and influential figures in the world – who also happens to be Hispanic. That person is none other than His Holiness, Pope Francis, leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics – 30 million of whom are Latinos living in the United States.
Pope Francis, who has made human rights one of the centerpieces of his papacy, is scheduled to visit the US Capitol later this month. He will be greeted by at least 50,000 Hispanic US Americans who are hoping their spiritual leader will respond to Donald Trump.
How Trump will respond is anyone’s guess. Pope Francis enjoys widespread popularity and respect among Catholics and non-Catholics alike. However, being from Argentina, he holds a special place in the hearts of Latino Catholics, as he is considered one of their own. Pope Francis describes the immigrant issue as a “humanitarian emergency,” brought on by increasing poverty and inequality throughout the world.
Earlier this year, Pope Francis said:
A change of attitude towards migrants and refugees is needed on the part of everyone, moving away from attitudes of defensiveness and fear, indifference and marginalization – all typical of a throwaway culture – towards attitudes based on a culture of encounter, the only culture capable of building a better, more just and fraternal world.
His Holiness also expressed his wish to “draw attention to the tens of thousands of children who migrate alone, unaccompanied, to escape poverty and violence,” a “humanitarian emergency…[that] demands the attention of the entire international community so that new forms of legal and secure migration may be adopted.”
The Pope is not expected to be “pointedly political” or attempt to make official policy recommendations, according to Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, Texas. However, he and other Latino Catholics are looking to Pope Francis to use is position and influence in order to “remind politicians, when they are crafting laws, to keep in mind human dignity and the importance of family life.”
Pope Francis has drawn fire from right-wing conservatives and corporatists for his involvement in issues they consider “political.” Some of the more vitriolic comments include accusations of being a Marxist, and – in the words of Michael Savage – “directing Mankind to worship the Anti-Christ.” Right-wingers have also accused the Pope of being naive in his calls for wealth redistribution and social justice. Recently, when the Pope stated his belief that capitalism can be “a real avenue to greed, [and] can be really toxic and corrupt,” Trump responded that he would tell His Holiness that “ISIS wants to get you.” In that same interview, Trump added: “I’m gonna have to scare the Pope because it’s the only thing…if you look at what’s going on – they better hope that capitalism works, because it’s the only thing we have right now. And it’s a great thing when it works properly.”
The problem is that unbridled capitalism hasn’t been working for 98% of the people of the world for a long time. Countries like Denmark and Norway have demonstrated that socialist democracy is a very workable and potentially superior alternative. Of course, nobody can tell that to an ignoramus like Donald Trump – not even a highly educated and compassionate man like Pope Francis.
There’s no telling what will come out of Trump’s mouth when His Holiness speaks out on immigration during his US visit – but we can safely assume it will at least be entertaining, if not completely asinine and offensive.