Opinion

Pope’s Francis’s attack on Trump ‘is merely a lovers’ tiff’

Pope’s Francis’s attack on Trump ‘is merely a lovers’ tiff’

The Catholic Church’s cringeworthy squabble with Donald Trump has taken many by surprise.

Pope Francis has said that:

A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian.

Trump swiftly responded by calling these comments “disgraceful”.

But this is merely a lovers’ tiff. The squabbling of two divorcees, if you will.  Throughout history, the Church’s relationship with the extreme right-wing has been cynical, deliberate and mutually beneficial.

As the late Christopher Hitchens once noted: “fascism” and “extreme right Catholic party” are essentially interchangeable terms.

It is for this reason that Pope Francis’ political posturing is hugely galling. Many non-believers and liberals have welcomed his swift takedown of Trump, but given that he is little more than an incoherent joke-candidate, it seems strange that the Holy Father would wield his influence to challenge him.

Perhaps, then, he is making up for lost time as the Church’s record on opposing the far-right is more than poor; it is utterly disgraceful.

In the 1930s, for example, fascist movements found Catholic nations such as Italy, Spain, Portugal and Czechoslovakia to be particularly fertile and here the Church was highly sympathetic to fascism.

Mussolini had barely seized power in Italy before the Vatican made a treaty with him – the Lateran Pact of 1929. With this, Catholicism became the only recognised religion in Italy and arbitrated matters such as birth, marriage, and education. In return it urged its followers to vote for Mussolini’s party.

Likewise, the first diplomatic accord by Hitler’s government was consummated in 1933 and was, you guessed it, a treaty with the Vatican. In return for a host of concessions the church ordered Catholics to abstain from any political activity that the regime defined as “off-limits”.

And so, twenty-three million Catholics in the Third Reich were exploited and pawned by their own Holy Father in the name of Nazism.

As a side note, the Church later ordered an annual celebration on April 20th for Hitler’s birthday which was obeyed faithfully and, eventually, became a tradition. It is also worth noting how little they had to say about Hitler’s Final Solution. The silence on this subject, at least, was eerie.

The pattern you see emerging is the pattern of that period. Almost all of the fascist regimes in Europe gained power with the help of the Vatican. The extreme-right was, in essence, given an enthusiastic papal blessing.

The Church has made some feeble efforts to apologise for all of this this but in reality the alliance with the far-right did not break down until after the proliferation of fascist governments had ended. In other words when this special relationship was no longer convenient for them.

This is worth bearing in mind now, because the posturing of Pope Francis is no compensation for a century of silence. When the far-right has reared its head the Catholic Church has stood tight-lipped to disastrous effect.

It would therefore be wrong to think that the Vatican is suddenly a liberal force and foe of the far-right. No amount of opportunistic comments such as this will make up for its shameful apathy in the face of historic evil.

• Gareth Evans is a freelancer who has written for The Guardian, The Telegraph, Vice and The Spectator. 

12 responses to “Pope’s Francis’s attack on Trump ‘is merely a lovers’ tiff’”

  1. Rob Andrews says:

    He’s playing for power the same way the renaissance popes did. It was a choice between Hitler and Stalin; Hitler kept the churches open (oh well). And of course Mussolini signed the Laterin Treaty which also made the the Vatican independent.

    I would also get on the right side of history if I were Pope.LIberation theology has been going on since the 1970s. I love the Internet era!.

    This is an interesting series about the Renaissance popes: “THe Borgias”it should be availablr through Amazon. Total cynacism!!.

  2. John says:

    Rob mentions liberation theology.
    Did not this “Francis” character turn-in two of his own priests to the fascist authorities in his country in the past, who were then tortured and killed?

  3. Rob Andrews says:

    Yes… you’re right. I was just making cynical comments to introduce ‘The Borgias”.Here’s a documentary that covers the life of ‘the contravertial’ pope. This may be just an introduction to the documentatry

    My Windows XP doesn’t load it.

    http://www.wliw.org/programs/pope-francis-the-sinner

  4. harrynutsak says:

    “merely a lovers tiff” really?
    What a lame attempt to smear two sleazeballs.
    “divorcees” from what, exactly? You turn right around and say that there’s no real divorce on the pope’s side, and never quite mention what or who trump is supposedly “divorced” from.

    Both trump and the pope are so sleazy you don’t need to pretend they are gay lovers or are you projecting something here?

    Really, really bad, yes even shitty, writing there.
    Smearing someone who doesn’t need it takes a certain finesse – you don’t have it at all.

  5. John says:

    Rob Andrews,
    My Windows 10 does load the hyperlink http://www.wliw.org/programs/pope-francis-the-sinner – but it is only a 31 second trailer.
    It does not convey anything worth knowing at all.
    I assume there is a longer programme that can be viewed.
    Do you have the hyperlink for the longer programme?

  6. Rob Andrews says:

    @John:

    NO. A google search shows only the 1:00 minute preview ; which is strange because PBS doesn’t copyright it material. All I can tell you the exzct title is:

    “Pope Francis: the sinner”. and it aired on PBS in the US.

  7. Stuart H. says:

    Shouldn’t Frankie have asked Bill O’Reilly’s permission to lay into Trump?
    Do we know how Fox is advising Catholics to vote yet?

  8. John says:

    Rob Andrews,
    I have tried tracking down the video but it seems it is not now possible to view it any longer in full.
    As ever, this is because they do not want to show it for free.
    As with anything to do with religion, unless you pay you do not see.
    I have found the following, which is informative:-
    In a book by Anura Gurugé, “Pope Francis’ US Visit 2015”, he states ‘Bergoglio, with added emphasis since he was elected pope, has also been accused of not doing enough during the ‘Dirty War’ – in particular to safeguarding fellow Jesuits, if not all Catholics. There is a case in particular of two Jesuit priests, Orlando Yorio and Franz Jalis, who were kidnapped by the Argentinean navy in 1976, tortured and held captive, without their whereabouts being known about for five months.
    Many have felt that Bergoglio in his capacity as Provincial Superior, could have and should have taken steps to protect the two priests, who were known to be at risk, prior to them being kidnapped and once they were abducted to have them freed.
    Orlando Yorio, in 1999 (a year prior to his death) said in an interview that Bergoglio rather than doing anything to have them freed, did the opposite!
    In 2005 a human rights lawyer tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to have Bergoglio tried, in criminal court, for his supposed ‘involvement’ in the kidnapping of the two Jesuits. (Page 28).

  9. Rob Andrews says:

    @John:
    That’s virtualy the same thing said in the PBS documentary I refured you to.

  10. John says:

    I think they may have been fortunate to have had the status of priests.
    They at least survived. Many many many more did not.
    I lived in Rio de Janeiro around then and considered moving to Argentina.
    Fortunately, I never went as an awful lot of people simply “disappeared” at that time and characters like Bergoglio did nothing to stop the process.
    Strange how the Church of Rome can always accommodate itself to virtually any regime, regardless of how ruthless and autocratic it may be.
    Based on brief extracts in the trailers, I expect the actual programme is just simple hog-wash for this Bergoglio character. Why else would RTE show it?

  11. Cali Ron says:

    It is way past time for the “Final Solution” to be applied to the catholic church, as well as all the other religious institutions.