The pope tells the crowd assembled in the square to forgive, even if the person you cannot force yourself to forgive is, say, a Trumpian monster, though he doesn’t name names. Those who cannot let things go, he says, “close our hearts to love for others.”
Yeah, well, what does he know? Much more than Trump has yet to figure out. One in four American voters is a Roman Catholic. And a third of those Catholics are Latino. They’re watching Trump, but they’re listening to Francis — on climate change, immigration, refugees, war and peace.
The pope’s approval rating in the United States was at 70 percent in a Pew survey at the start of this year, while Trump has been at about half that for much of the last few months. Throughout the world, every country but Russia (and to a small degree, Israel) has a lesser view of the United States under Trump.
For years at a time — make that decades — the home of the successor to St. Peter was a house of nasty intrigue, deceit and power put to awful use. Popes fathered wars, and children, had heretics executed or chained to a cell in the belly of Castel Sant’Angelo, the fortress that fronts Vatican City. The Vicar of Christ cut deals with dictators, including a devil’s bargain with Mussolini. With its institutional cover-up of pedophile clerics, the church showed the Mafia a thing or two about organized crime. In matters of sex, it was medieval and hypocritical. It was afraid of science.
Now the pope uses science to shame Trump, who stares down a parade of hurricanes and says, nothing to see there. “Whoever denies it has to go to scientists and ask them,” said Francis last week. “They speak very clearly. Scientists are precise.” Can a statue of Galileo in St. Peter’s Square be far behind?
On Wednesday, a glorious Roman morning with a bite of fall in the air, the pope holds his general audience. The goofy smile is electric. He’s buoyant. The day before, Trump spoke to the United Nations, a tweet dressed up as a speech. He made a very real threat to wipe out a nation of 25 million people. He would, if he has to, “totally destroy North Korea.”
This has always been the implication of having more nukes than the other guy. But diplomacy — another word for Trump to look up — is the art of war by other means. Trump pushed America first, which sounded like “Me, me, me.” He played the petulance card, the grievance card.
As Trump went low, the…