Today Pope Francis reminded the world that building walls isn’t Christian. Donald Trump took this personally. But Pope Francis got it right. The Judeo- Christian texts are filled with instances of God breaking down walls, removing barriers, and lifting veils. Nothing- not even the powers-that-be, as the Apostle Paul reminds us- can separate us from the love of God. This is not metaphorical for Paul. The Christian faith is about community. We can’t have authentic community when barriers stand between us, especially those built by fear mongering politicians. Putting up a wall between nations, especially in the 21st century, runs counter to all our ancient texts proclaim.
For centuries, political hopefuls have co-opted the Good News, corrupted it, disembodied it, and gutted it of its economic and social implications in order to posture themselves for more power. Donald Trump and Ted Cruz are merely the latest in a long line of offenders. But they didn’t get where they are on their own. They had help. They have been aided and abetted by “Christian” leaders and their followers for a very long time.
The Gospel of Jesus is, both, spiritual and social. They cannot be separated. God’s justice is for all. It is distributive. It is not limited one faith over another. And it certainly isn’t about this business of building walls.
If the question is whether or not Pope Francis as any business calling out potential world leaders for misrepresenting the Christian faith, the answer is: absolutely he does. In fact, a leader in his position had better call them out or further risk the integrity of the church universal.
There are seismic shifts occurring in religious communities everywhere. People of all faiths are tired of their religion being used as a justification for terrorism, or a shield for some to stand behind, while they deny the civil rights of other, or as an excuse to carry out xenophobic and oppressive policies.
So, a word of gratitude for Pope Francis and those like him who muster the courage to spoke for the voiceless in our world and calling out those who misrepresent the Good News.
**I recognize the Pope lives behind walls as do many people. The point is that bridges send an entirely different signal than barriers. Our world needs a different kind of leadership. I think the Pope is expressing, in part, what that kind of leadership looks like.