• author
    • Stephen Cooper

    • April 21, 2016 in Columnists

    Pope Francis schools Trump on the Christian spirit and being a New Yorker

    (Columnist’s note: This article was first published by The Moderate Voice  — themoderatevoice.com — the day before New Yorkers went to vote.  New Yorkers have since rubber-stamped The Donald’s golden ticket.)

    Instead of the oily entourage of gasbags, sycophants and other self-seekers routinely flying about the 24-karat gold-plated 757 dubbed “Trump Force One,” Pope Francis’ private plane carried three families of Syrian Muslim refugees back to Rome — 12 human beings total, including six children. USA Today reports that the Vatican said the 12 refugees will be cared for by the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic lay organization dedicated to charity.

    This deeply emotional Christian gesture on the part of Pope Francis, I respectfully submit, gave the leading Republican candidate for president, Donald J. Trump, a top-to-bottom lesson — not only in the meaning of leadership — but also, in what the Christian spirit is all about.

    I have blogged twice already this year for the Huffington Post about Trump’s vile and see-through misappropriation of the Christian religion — ‘Jesus’ Scholar Marcus J. Borg would have rejected Trump’s bumbling appeal to Christian exclusivism (January 21) and Hey Trump: Your so-called ‘favorite book’, the Bible, rejects ‘the mantle of anger’ and your policies of exclusion (January 15) — but Pope Francis’ simple, spiritual act of sheer Christian love for 12 Muslims he’d never met before, literally forced my writing pen out of my desk drawer and into my hand.

    As Empire State voters prepare — if recent poll numbers are to be believed — to continue to lay the groundwork for a potential Trump presidency, they would be wise to remember the most important part of Emma Lazarus’ poem, The New Colossus, engraved in bronze on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

    Note to New York: Nowhere in Lazarus’ poem is there even a hint of Trump’s oft-repeated threat of “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Indeed, Lazarus’ poem is antithetical to the idea of building walls or barriers between faith communities or nations.

    Moreover, New Yorkers should compare Donald Trump’s pathetic pandering and false-proselytizing about his overly-professed Christian faith to Pope Francis’ quiet spirituality and beatific elegance, and they should ask themselves: did Pope Francis with one swoop of his non-gilded pope-plane just show Donald Trump both what it means to be a real New Yorker, and also, what is meant by true Christian brotherhood?

    About the Author: Stephen Cooper is a former federal and D.C. public defender. He has contributed to numerous magazines and newspapers in the United States and overseas. He writes full-time and lives and in Woodland Hills, California.

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