Who is not a Christian?
Pope Francis touched a high voltage electric wire when he said, in an airborne interview after leaving Mexico:
A person who thinks only of building walls, wherever that may be, and not bridges, is not Christian.
It is important to put his words in context, reading the entire interview, as reported by ZENIT:
Question: “You spoke very eloquently about the problems of immigrants. On the other side of the border, however, there is a rather tough electoral campaign in progress. One of the candidates to the White House, the Republican Donald Trump, recently said in an interview that His Holiness is a man of politics or indeed even a pawn in the hands of the Mexican government to favor a policy of immigration. He has declared that, if elected, he intends to construct a 2,500 kilometer wall along the border between Mexico and the United States, and to deport eleven million illegal immigrants, thus separating families, and so on. I would like to ask, first of all, what you think of these accusations and whether an American Catholic can vote for such a person”.
Pope Francis: “I thank God that he has said I am a politician, as Aristotle defined the human being as an ‘animal politicus’: at least I am a human being! And that I am a pawn … perhaps, I do not know. I will leave that to your judgment, to the people. A person who thinks only of building walls, wherever that may be, and not bridges, is not Christian. This is not in the Gospel. With regard to what I would advise, to vote or not to vote: I would not like to become involved. I would say only that this man is not Christian. It is necessary to see if he has said these things, and for this reason I would give the benefit of the doubt”.
But the blog Super Martyrio puts the Pope’s statement in the context of other similar statements of the pontiff (which, not surprisingly, means “bridge-builder).
- “A Christian who withdraws into himself, who hides everything that the Lord has given him... is not a Christian!”
- “A Christian without joy is not Christian.”
- “A Christian without memory is not a true Christian …”
- “One who gives alms and sounds the trumpet so that everyone knows is not a Christian.”
- “A Christian who continually lives in sadness is not Christian.”
- “One who simply speaks and acts, is not a true prophet, is not a true Christian.”
- “If you can’t forgive, you are not a Christian.”
- “When a Christian would prefer not to show the light of God but prefers his own darkness … he’s missing something and is not a true Christian.”
In the blog entry, delightfully entitled "Francis goes apophatic, Trump goes apoplectic," the writer Carlos refers to several quotes of Blessed Monseñor Oscar Romero about the true church, but I think this quote of Monseñor Romero, from February 17, 1980 , speaks much more closely to what Pope Francis said and meant:
This is the commitment of being a Christian: to follow Christ in his incarnation. If Christ, the God of majesty, became a lowly human and lived with the poor and even died on a cross like a slave, our Christian faith should also be lived in the same way. The Christian who does not want to live his commitment of solidarity with the poor is not worthy to be called Christian.
This statement, a little more than a month before his martyrdom, is reflected in a homily he gave in his first year as archbishop, on November 13, 1977:
Do you want to know if your Christianity is genuine?Here is the touchstone:Whom do you get along with?Who are those who criticize you?Who are those who do not accept you?Who are those who flatter you?Know from that what Christ said once:“I have come not to bring peace, but division.”10
There will be division even in the same family,because some want to live more comfortablyby the world’s principles, those of power and money.But others have embraced the call of Christand must reject all that cannot be just in the world.
These words of Blessed Monseñor Romero and the words of Pope Francis can serve as points for an examination of conscience for everyone who dare call herself or himself a Christian.