Daily Archives: March 1, 2017

What I looked up yesterday: How are Trump and Pope Francis alike?

What Donald Trump and Pope Francis actually have in common

(a year ago):

 Both are outsiders bent on shaking up their establishments. . . . There are rhetorical similarities too. . . .   Trump addresses potential voters in a vivid and snappy way, using simple words and arresting statements. Much the same could be said of Francis.. . .  both know how to make headlines. . . .  And both men promise to empower those who feel excluded  . . .  Francis and Trump prioritize an iconoclastic style over substance — or coherence.  The basis of their appeal is a mistrust of institutions, which is widespread and increasing.  . . .


What Trump and Francis have in common  (two weeks post-election):

[Both] have a fondness for . . .  name-calling that’s rare among presidential candidates and popes. . . .  Trump calls people ‘‘low energy’’, ‘‘liar’’ and ‘‘loser’’, while Francis prefers ‘‘Pharisee’’ and ‘‘self-absorbed Promethean neo-Pelagian’’ (though he’s not above ‘‘whiner’’ and ‘‘sourpuss’’ as well).

But their . . . language reflects a shared mastery of the contemporary media environment, in which controversy and unpredictability are the great currencies, and having people constantly asking “Did he really just say that?” is the surest ticket to the world’s attention.”

Pope Francis does not use theological terms in their traditional meanings, so he has to be understood in a different way. When the Holy Father uses “grace”, “conscience”, “absolute” or “heresy”, he does not mean what the theological tradition means by them.

He quotes another writer:

 “When [Trump] makes [exorbitant] claims . . . the press takes him literally, but not seriously, but his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.”  . . . .  [Catholics, on the other hand] take the Holy Father both seriously and literally . . . [and] are not used to taking the pope seriously but not literally.


How Are Pope Francis & Donald Trump Alike? (five days later):

[Trump is] redefining almost every day what we can expect from a president, but also putting at risk some fundamental assumptions about American political life and the way a president behaves.  . . . .

Pope Francis does this when in his letter on married life, “Amoris Laetitia,” he employs “indirectness” where Catholics expect “formal words” that are “supposed to be supernaturally preserved from error” — not “winks and implications,” a NY Times columnist wrote acerbically.

A commenter got this writer’s approval as “insightful.”

Both [Trump and the Pope] are dramatic and emotional, not intellectual: we are used to thoughtful and intellectually solid even — if you disagree — justifications from conservatives and popes and you are not going to get that from either.

Lots more from this writer, for whom both Trump and Pope Francis are thoroughly objectionable.

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