Andersen: The pope awakens Trump’s soul
May 29, 2017
Reports indicate that Donald Trump has seen the light. His meeting with the pope was tweeted as "fantastic." The president announced he will seek peace in the world.
I was hoping for some measure of salvation, but the pope's influence has exceeded all expectations. Francis must have major clout to sway a man who already sees himself seated on the heavenly throne at the right hand of God.
Trump not only gushed about his meeting with the pope; he actually grinned at the camera in a photo op with the pontiff, though he was the only one smiling. The others looked like they were posed for a historic daguerreotype.
Veiled, with drawn expressions, Melania and Ivanka appeared to be attending a funeral. The pope looked downright dour, as described by a CNN reporter: "He looks like he just ate some bad fish! The only person who's happy, of course, is Trump. He doesn't even get that everyone else there is totally miserable to be around him! Typical!"
Who would have thought that the pope would hold so much sway with the president. One should never underestimate the power of a celestial evangelical celebrity like the pope, even given the dramatic ideological differences between him and Trump.
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Here was an opportunity to meet an adversary face-to-face, to influence him with brotherly love, to anoint him with the milk of human kindness. Something had to rub off.
The Atlantic reported on the meeting as a major breakthrough. They called the pope "the Trump whisperer," suggesting that humanizing was achieved through a stroke of divine intervention.
"The president is meeting with leaders of the world's three Abrahamic religions," said the Atlantic, "hoping to win over God's allies. Or perhaps it's the Francis effect at work, after all, and the pontiff was able to charm the finicky billionaire."
Seeing Trump smile is miracle No. 1. Hearing Trump pledge to work for world peace is miracle No. 2. If miracles come in threes, the third miracle will be getting Trump to accept the pope's message about the environment.
A statement by the Vatican said: "It is hoped that there may be serene collaboration between the state and the Catholic Church in the United States, engaged in service to the people in the fields of health care, education and assistance to immigrants."
Ironically, this panacea was issued about the time Trump's proposed budget announced plans to cut 66 federal programs, many of which support health care, education and social and environmental issues. Spending increases are proposed for defense spending and heightened immigration enforcement.
The pope pushed several books on Trump, a professed non-reader. Among them were an "apostolic exhortation" condemning free-market economics and the pope's encyclical "Laudato si," exhorting the civilized world to battle climate change and environmental degradation.
There is no greater advocate for free-market economics than Trump, who has yet to acknowledge climate change, let alone act on it. Now that Trump's soul is resplendent with divine grace, anything could happen.
This leads me to wonder whether the Bears Ears and Escalante-Grand Staircase National Monuments have a fighting chance. I'm sure the pope would celebrate these remarkable landscapes as symbols of pristine creation, so perhaps he could put in a good word for their preservation.
The news on the home front is not good, however, as Utah conservationists are digging in for a life-or-death struggle with a president who never has, and probably never will, set foot in either of these sublime desert sanctuaries.
Still, it may be too soon to tell. If Trump was so touched by the divine hand of the pope that he beamed at a camera and proclaimed himself an advocate for global peace, he may make a holy pilgrimage to the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase.
I had doubts that Trump's visit to the Holy Land and the Vatican would change the world, but now it appears that Trump is the one who is changed. I hope to see him step off Air Force One wearing flowing robes, grinning ear-to-ear, holding out his arms in a gesture of unity, and wearing a halo instead of a hairpiece.
Paul Andersen's column appears on Mondays. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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