Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Trump Meets Some Monarchs

U.S. President Donald Trump is currently on his first foreign trip as chief executive and has stopped in at some places of royal significance and met with a few monarchs. As best as I can recall, the first monarch to meet with him as president was King Abdullah II of Jordan and on this trip he has met with King Salman Abdulaziz in Saudi Arabia, Pope Francis (sovereign of the State of Vatican City) in Rome and with King Philippe of the Belgians in Brussels while in town to talk to NATO which, while running for office, Trump dismissed as "obsolete" and a rip-off for the United States but, after proper coaching from the neocon clique, he now says is "not obsolete" and is just great. Whatever. In between Riyadh and Rome he also stopped in at Jerusalem but, of course, there was no royal to meet with in Israel. In fact, no reigning European monarch has ever visited the State of Israel, though I think an African royal from a no longer reigning family might have visited a long time ago in an official capacity. European royals have made unofficial visits but as far as full-fledged, government sanctioned, roll-out-the-red-carpet type state visits or official visits of any kind, there has never been one. Recently, some where saying the British might be the first, but, personally, I doubt it.

As for Trump meeting with the King of Saudi Arabia, I am less than pleased. He certainly got a much warmer reception than Obama had, despite the media constantly informing everyone that Trump is "Islamophobic" and he did not kowtow nor did the First Lady cover her hair. The Arab monarchs seemed to have intentionally moved to meet with Trump quickly and put on a great show of friendship but, personally, I am not buying it. As I have long said, I would prefer the Arab monarchs to the most likely alternative which would be a Sunni version of the Iranian Islamic theocracy but being so cozy with the Saudi king and selling him so many weapons does not sit well with me. The level to which America has befriended the Arab monarchies, even to the point of fighting a war to restore an absolute monarch to his throne, has not resulted in any increase in goodwill from the Islamic world (or among monarchists I have noticed) and any sort of benefit remains unknown to me. The Middle East is going through an Islamic civil war with Iran and the Shiites on one side and the Saudis and other Arab states and the Sunnis on the other. I think America should stay completely out of this and not picking a winner between two sides which, frankly, each despise the United States.

Moving on from Jerusalem to Rome, President Trump met with Pope Francis, something which caused some anticipation given that the two had some cross words for each other in the past. The Pope saying that anyone who wanted to build a wall on their border was not a Christian, so I guess he got over that, "who am I to judge?" sentiment, at least on certain issues. I suggested that, upon arrival, Trump might complement the Pontiff on the extremely high walls that surround Vatican City and his private army of Swiss mercenaries who, backed up by the Italian police, keep the little papal state secure. Somehow, I doubt that happened. Trump seemed much more pleased than the Pope but a Vatican spokesman said that the two found common ground on the subjects of "life, religious liberty and freedom of conscience". That sounds nice. However, I could not help but notice that of the three items listed, the Catholic Church was, until fairly recently in ecclesiastical terms, absolutely opposed to all but one of them.

The Pope also urged Trump not to pull out of the Paris "climate change" agreement which seems just as bizarre a thing for a pope to be stuck on as it is to hear a pope advocating for democracy, freedom of religion and the separation of Church and state. Has Pope Francis perhaps heard of his predecessor (Blessed) Pope Pius IX? He might read Pius IX's controversial Syllabus of Errors and see how far it coincides with his own views. Of course, they might say that Pius IX was speaking about areas beyond his field of expertise but, last I checked, this would likewise apply to Pope Francis talking about "climate change". Again, it also just seems an odd subject for a pope to take up, rather smacking of monumental human arrogance to think that a group of powerful men are going to get together and sign agreements that will change the weather. Past pontiffs might, I suspect, have been more concerned about Trump being a protestant or his multiple divorces than his position on the planet's temperature. However, the meeting of these two men, with the media constantly repeating how completely opposite they are, also called to mind something I doubt you will see anywhere else. Yes, it's just that mad

This meeting has obviously been implied to be a meeting of humility and arrogance, the austere and the opulent and yet, I think that may not be all wrong but not in the way people are thinking. Just consider this for a moment. In numerous official statements from President Trump and his staff, Trump has repeated over and over that he is "learning" more and more all the time about how things work. He has certainly changed many of his positions since he was elected to office (not a good thing in my view btw) and that would necessarily reflect an admission of error. Yet, on the other hand, Pope Francis has said that the papacy has not changed him at all. He is exactly the same man now as he was before his election. In fact, the papacy has had to change considerably in order to adapt to him rather than him adapting to the papacy, everything from dress codes to living arrangements to security procedures have had to be changed. Which then, at the bottom of it, is the more "humble" attitude? One man attains high office and must learn and adapt while the other attains high office and says he has not changed at all, which is to say, there must have been no room for improvement. Of course, I'm probably wrong but that is what occurred to me anyway.

Lastly, as for Trump meeting with the King of the Belgians, it seemed to go well enough but frankly there was not much to that. It was more of a courtesy call than anything else. Trump is there to talk to NATO, to two the neocon line and since Belgium currently has a government, there is little for him to do in terms of national decisions. Perhaps, at least, the fact that King Philippe and Queen Mathilde survived will reassure the British that the Queen and Prince Philip will not be subjected to any immediate danger from meeting with the Trumps. After recent events in Manchester, perhaps they are reconsidering how terrible Trump's suspension of travel from countries like Libya might be? Well, of course not, that would just be crazy...

5 comments:

  1. I am in complete agreement with your commentary here, especially concerning the conversation in which President Trump and the Holy Father found their limited common ground. Indeed, this modern idea of religious liberty we have is not only contrary to the tradition of the Church, but also a ridiculous position for a Catholic to hold. Of course, we cannot force people to convert, but neither can we give them license to spread their errors. There were countries in South America which, until relatively recently, had the traditional teaching on religious liberty enshrined in their constitutions. Now this has passed away, and so is the practice of the Catholic religion also passing away, to be replaced by Evangelical Protestantism and other false beliefs.

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    1. I said recently, and got some blow-back for saying so, that any state which truly offers "freedom of religion" must either not believe in Hell or, if they do, does not care if you spend eternity there. Either way, it hardly seems like a kind government to me. Truthfully though, most countries invariably have a state religion, whether they will honestly admit it or not.

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    2. Good heavens, are you implying that Roman Catholicism should be the only legal Christian faith? And that Protestants worship a false God? I have my problems with much of what is touted as "Christianity" these days, including the current Pope who seems to be encouraging the Islamization of Europe, but I would hardly call anyone who is not a Roman Catholic as having false beliefs.

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    3. The traditional teaching on religious liberty is that the public worship of non-Catholics cannot be permitted, that their literature must be censored, etc. You get the idea. Traditionally, false religions were to be tolerated, like a bad smell, but as little as possible. The reason for this is that the Christian religion (that is, Catholicism; heretics and schismatics are not followers of Christ and are only referred to as such because 'those who have been baptized' is rather wordy), is the only true religion. Other religions may have elements of truth in them, but their errors are great and these lead to damnation. For example, some Protestant errors are 'once-saved-always-saved', sola scriptura, and the denial of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. These ideas have practical consequences. It can quite easily be seen that the idea of 'once-saved-always-saved' can lead to laxity. However, this is not the greatest problem of the people who hold these errors; their greatest problem is that they are outside the Church founded by Christ and so are deprived of the Sacraments which are the normal means through which God gives sanctifying grace. As the mission, to which all other things are subject, of the Catholic Church is the salvation of souls, it is only natural that it is the teaching of the Church that Catholic countries must prevent the propagation errors contrary to the faith as much as possible. I say again, however, that conversion cannot be solicited. One cannot force someone to believe something or not to believe something.

      As to your point concerning the Pope, I also have grave and severe problems with him, not least because he believes many things contrary to the Catholic faith, but also because of his position on immigration. However, contrary to popular belief, Catholics are not bound to belief absolutely everything which the Pope says. Papal infallibility only applies under certain conditions (when it is clear that the Pope is teaching the universal Church, when he is teaching on faith and morals, and when he makes it clear that he is doing this through his God-given authority and that all Catholics are bound to believe what he has taught), and infallibility has not been invoked in over fifty years.

      My final point concerns the use of the term 'Roman Catholic'. This term was not accepted by Catholics, at least not in my native England, until the early twentieth century. The term was coined by Anglicans who wished to make out that there are in fact different kinds of Catholic than 'Roman' Catholics, and that Anglicans are in fact Catholic. It was used as a light term of abuse. Of course, there are other kinds of Catholic than 'Roman' Catholics (some examples being Melkites, Maronites, and Chaldeans, who could only be considered Roman through their adherence to the Roman Pontiff) if one takes the term to mean Latin rite Catholics (that is, Catholics who use the Roman rite or uses of it).

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