How Many Divisions has the Pope Got?

Even with the short memory span Americans have about history, I believe that most of us know that these words were not spoken by the inimitable Donald Trump, but by Joseph Stalin in response to French Prime Minister Pierre Laval’s plea to the dictator to ease up on Russian Catholics to gain favor with the Vatican. But, with the sparring between the current Pontiff and His Mouthiness, one has to wonder whether The Donald has adopted some of the arrogant attitude of the infamous Soviet leader. After all, Trump has consistently expressed his admiration for the leadership qualities of Russian President Vladimir Putin, so why wouldn’t he identify with the pugnacious tone of Putin’s most vicious predecessor towards Francis, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics?

After Francis rebuked Trump as “not Christian” because of his proposal to build a wall across the Mexican border and other anti-immigrant statements, Trump, a Presbyterian, called the comments “disgraceful” and “unbelievable” and questioned how even the Holy Father can judge his personal faith. But, was Trump really just looking to shore up his faltering lead in evangelical heavy, not Catholic-friendly, South Carolina while ignoring the risk of alienating the high percentage of Catholic voters in later primaries, especially in the Northeast?

At the least, Trump proved that there is no limit to his ability to insult those who disagree with him. Among the many “losers” on that list are his current and former rivals for the Republican nomination, Megyn Kelly, John McCain, the mainstream media and the American public. On the shorter list of those earning his praise, in addition to Putin, is Saddam Hussein, both of whom he cites as having better leadership qualities than Barack Obama.

But, as the insults grow, Trump marches on. He continues to maintain the support of a healthy plurality of potential Republican primary voters who mistake his inane utterances as signs of Presidential character. Tomorrow’s primary poses a big test, with Ted Cruz gathering conservative strength. But to the Trump loyalists, who view their man as a righteous underdog in the contretemps with Francis, there is only one answer as to whether they will stick with him: “Is the Pope Catholic?”

Originally published at