Tag Archives: Vatican

More like a stand-up double, maybe, Mr. President

The president of the United States believes he “hit a home run” on his first trip abroad as head of state.

I believe I will disagree with Donald J. Trump on that one.

“But we have been gone for close to nine days. This will be nine days. And I think we hit a home run no matter where we are,” Trump said in Italy as he prepared to return home — and into the political maelstrom that awaits.

Let’s review:

* He started in Saudi Arabia and delivered an acceptable speech to a room full of kings, presidents and potentates about the threat of international terrorism. It’s interesting that he would make such a speech in a country that has done next to nothing to curb its breeding of terrorists. Hey, wasn’t Osama bin Laden a Saudi native?

* Trump ventured to Israel, where was met by government officials who were steamed that he revealed classified secrets to Russian visitors earlier that had come from Israeli intelligence officials. Lord knows what Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu likely told him in private.

* Then he went to the Vatican and met with Pope Francis, who he had criticized while campaigning for the presidency because the Holy Father disagreed with some public policy statements the candidate had made.

* Trump then ventured to Brussels, where he scolded NATO allies because some of them aren’t paying enough for the defense of Europe against Russian threats and those threats presented by terrorists. The reactions of the heads of state and government who heard the lecture couldn’t have been more instructive; they couldn’t believe the president would dress them down in such a public manner.


Along the way, the president was met with concern, a bit of anger over past statements. By my way of reasoning, he didn’t do much to assuage the concerns of world leaders who are concerned about the absence of any public service experience in his background.

Home run, Mr. President? Hardly. I’d say you hit — maybe — a stand-up double.

Weirdness overtakes reason on campaign trail


It’s been like this for some time now.

Probably since the day in June 2015 when Donald J. Trump — the one-time reality TV celebrity and real estate mogul — entered the Republican Party presidential primary campaign.

Events of the past 24 hours, though, have brought about a level of weirdness that I don’t think many of us ever saw coming.

It involves Trump and — of all people — his Holiness, Pope Francis I, the head of the Catholic Church.

The pontiff is touring Mexico and he said that anyone who wants to build a wall to bar immigrants is “not Christian.” He said Scripture doesn’t condone such a thing. I should note that Pope Francis made his remarks in Spanish and they have been interpreted into English; I trust the translation is accurate.

Trump fired back, calling the pope’s criticism of an American politician’s faith “disgraceful.”

Trump kept up his criticism of the pope. To my knowledge, the pope hasn’t yet answered the GOP frontrunner’s criticism of him.

I am just not certain now where this campaign goes from here. Nor do I have a clue as to how it could get even stranger.

But you know what? Given that I never thought it would devolve to this level — with the pope and a leading American politician at odds over a proposal to build a wall — I am preparing myself for the weirdness level to keep escalating.


Hey, didn’t JFK settle this religious thing already?


I’ve always thought — or hoped, at least — that John F. Kennedy’s 1960 speech in Houston settled the notion that a candidate’s religion should have no bearing on whether he could serve as president of the United States.

He told some Protestant clergy that the Vatican would not dictate to the Catholic candidate how he should govern, that he would swear to be faithful only to the U.S. Constitution.

Well, silly me. The issue is coming up again. The target this time is Dr. Ben Carson, the famed neurosurgeon whose faith is of the Seventh-day Adventist variety.

Donald Trump raised the issue the other day in typical tactless Trump fashion. Now comes a well-known lefty commentator, David Corn, editor of Mother Jones, to wonder aloud whether Carson’s faith would inform the way he would govern should he “take control of the government.”

This is a ridiculous debate.

First of all, presidents don’t control the government. We have this notion that power is spread among two other governmental branches — the courts and the Congress.

The Constitution says there should be “no religious test” for candidates seeking any public office. That includes the presidency.

Yes, Carson has brought up his own faith. He’s talked about how his faith would guide him. He hasn’t said he would toss the Constitution aside any more than then-Sen. Kennedy said he would more than five decades ago.

Corn is playing to voters’ fears when he says of Carson: “Now, he is running on the basis that he has faith. And I think it’s going to open, you know, a big can here. Because, you know, he does come from a church that believes in end times, prophesies, and he’s said he believes in the church’s teachings.”

A simple declarative question is in order: Dr. Carson, do you vow to uphold the law under the Constitution of the United States?

I believe he’s already pledged to do so.


Davis saga recalls long-ago controversy


The Kim Davis Saga in Rowan County, Ky., should serve as a key lesson to all public officials who take an oath to perform their duties on behalf of the entire public constituency they serve.

Davis took that oath to serve as county clerk. One of her duties is to issue marriage licenses to those who request them. The highest court in the land then decreed that gay couples are entitled to the same rights of marriage as straight couples.

That doesn’t comport with Davis’s Christian values, she said. She refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples and now she’s been ordered to jail by a federal judge.

Public officials take an oath to serve everyone. Their oath is a secular one. One’s faith has no bearing on whether they should perform their duties.

This does sound familiar to those of us old enough to remember a controversy 55 years ago involving a young candidate for president of the United States. Democratic U.S. Sen. John Kennedy was his party’s nominee and was campaigning to become the first Roman Catholic ever elected to the presidency.

Questions arose during that campaign about Kennedy’s ability to fulfill the oath he would take if he were elected. Would he be loyal to the U.S. Constitution or, some wondered, to the Vatican? Some die-hard conspiracy theorists conjectured that he would be taking orders from the pope.

Sen. Kennedy then decided to settle the issue once and for all. He came to Texas and, speaking to a Protestant gathering of clergy, made a solemn vow: He would follow the Constitution and if in the highly unlikely event he encountered an issue that contradicted the teachings of the church and he could not act on that issue, he would resign the presidency.

And then he added: “I hope any conscientious public servant would do the same.”

Read the speech here

He won the 1960 election, took his oath and as near as anyone can tell was loyal to the U.S. Constitution.

Kim Davis cannot perform the duties of her office. She says they conflict with her faith.

She needs to quit that public office.