P45’s predilection for nasty comments toward those who criticize him is well known. His circle of defenders and acolytes politely describe the disorder as “hitting back hard.” This defect has morphed into a legend, especially during his tenure in Washington, and is often cited as a rationale for brutal insults against perceived offenders. A target since 2016 has been Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s one billion Catholics.
In April 2020, Aaron “Matt” Schlapp, head of the American Conservative Union (sponsor/host of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference) hosted the inauguration of Catholics for Trump, directed at generating enthusiasm and votes for the incumbent among the 81 million US Catholics, approximately 22% of the nation’s total population. Some 51 million are estimated to be adults, while the fastest-growing sector within Catholicism is Hispanic. That initiative is, of course, buttressed by the fact that Callista Gingrich, third wife of Newt, has been the administration’s ambassador to the Vatican since 2017.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Pope Francis told reporters that “a person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. That is not the gospel.”
In 2013, the Roman Catholic cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio, born in Argentina and ordained as a Jesuit, to lead the global church as the first South American and Hispanic prelate so chosen in its centuries of existence. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Pope Francis told reporters that “a person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian. That is not the gospel.” P45 responded that Francis’s comment was “disgraceful.” On a recent visit to Mexico, on the papal plane return trip to Rome, Francis repeated this comment.
In a statement in response by P45’s campaign, the backslap read “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which, as everyone knows, is ISIS’ ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.”
In a statement in response by P45’s campaign, the backslap read “If and when the Vatican is attacked by ISIS, which, as everyone knows, is ISIS’ ultimate trophy, I can promise you that the Pope would have only wished and prayed that Donald Trump would have been president.” Adding a “what about” killer comeback, Dan Scavino, a White House press person, tweeted an aerial picture of Vatican City with the comment, “Amazing comments from the Pope–considering Vatican City is 100% surrounded by massive walls.” That’ll show him, Dan, that walls built in the 9th century to protect against pirates are still effective. ISIS does not stand a chance against those ramparts or the Vatican Swiss Guard’s seven-foot halberds.
It is not known whether Pope Francis is a consumer of US cable news because, if so, he might have seen Tucker Carlson’s interview of P45 in Helsinki in July 2018, for a meeting with Vladimir Putin. During their gabfest, Carlson and P45 volleyed in symbiosis about US participation in NATO. Carlson asked Mr. Trump: “So, let’s say Montenegro—which joined last year—is attacked, why should my son go to Montenegro to defend it from attack? Why is that?”
“I understand what you’re saying,” Mr. Trump said. “I’ve asked the same question. Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people. They have very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III, now I understand that—but that’s the way it was set up.”
Montenegro has not been a country Mr. Trump typically discusses. During a NATO conference in May 2017, video footage showed Mr. Trump pushing past the Montenegrin prime minister, Dusko Markovic, as he made his way to the front of a photo opportunity of NATO country leaders.
Some critics have read between the lines of Carlson’s and P45’s concern about sending sons to war to conclude that the sentiment emerges from P45’s experience with the draft during the Vietnam era, perhaps another one of the world’s “shithole” nations to which P45 referred in January 2018.
It would seem, therefore, that P45’s taunt about ISIS attacking the Vatican was pure shading and spoofing. He had already conflated the Vatican into the shithole class of countries not deserving of US support or assistance. In the micro-Catholic world, President Tweety vilified Martin Gugino, the septuagenarian Buffalo man manhandled by police, who, it turns out, is a member of the Catholic Worker movement.
If Ms. Gingrich as the US Ambassador to the Vatican is hosting any receptions around this time, one wonders about the content of the conversations over the hors d’oeuvres and champagne. At the same time, no press release from Catholics for Trump has been issued to explain P45’s 2016 characterization of Pope Francis as “disgraceful” nor the Pope’s repeat characterization of the incumbent’s un-Christian conduct. Exit poll data for 2020 concerning the Catholic vote should prove interesting.