Do the pope and Donald Trump agree? While that may be a stretch, as usual, lost in last week’s media labeled snipes between Pope Francis and Donald Trump were the facts. Despite reports, the Holy Father never said Mr. Trump was not a Christian. Leading up to a question by a reporter, the pope was first told, that if elected, Trump “would build a 2,500-kilometer-long wall along the border.” Only then was the pope asked what he thought of this plan. The pope’s unreported and verbatim response was, “I say only that this man is not Christian if he has said things like that. We must see if he said things in that way and in this I give the benefit of the doubt.”
It would surprise many to hear that the Catholic Church’s official position on immigration may include walls. While building barricades for the sole purpose of keeping potential immigrants away does not address the humanitarian and moral concerns, and thus may not be seen as Christian, building infrastructure to secure and protect a nation while allowing legalized immigration is not contrary to Catholic doctrines. In a 2013 document addressing this very subject, the bishops of the United States declared that a nation has two duties in this regard. The first duty is to recognize that people have a right to immigrate and should be welcomed by neighboring nations. Secondly, a sovereign nation has the duty to secure its borders and enforce laws when the common good is at stake. In other words, if built, the walls must have doors - or as the pope suggests, bridges.