BY PATRICK HOWELL, SJ
The pope’s off-the-cuff, refreshing remarks on his return trips to Rome after visiting various countries are a reporter’s dream assignment. His return trip from Mexico was no exception.
When asked about Donald Trump’s plan to build a wall across the American borders, the pope simply said, “A person who thinks only about building walls — wherever they may be — and not building bridges, is not Christian.” That’s not the Gospel, he added. That’s not welcoming the stranger.
One can only think of other walls, such as the current wall that the Israelis built It cuts deep into the West Bank, expanding Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and resources, And, in fact, once completed the Wall and adjoining buffer will de facto annex some 46 percent of the West Bank. The Wall is 8 meters high, twice the height of the Berlin Wall, with watchtowers and buffer zones, electric fences, and military patrols.
More enduring, perhaps, in the recent interview will be the pope’s suggestion that contraception could be used to control the Zika virus. He underscored, “Abortion is an absolute evil.” But “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil." And he drew parallels with Pope Paul VI’s recommendation that nuns could use contraception in Africa to avoid the results of rape. Similarly Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wrote in 2010 that in some cases condoms to prevent the spread of disease could be the “first step” toward moral responsibility.
Stay tuned for the pope’s next “return flight.” He’ll be making a papal visit to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay in three months’ time.