The upcoming meeting in Rome between Pope Francis and President Trump is fast approaching. It is an opportune occasion to share some thoughts and concerns about the future.
The two figures could not be more different. The Pope is the head of the greatest spiritual power on Earth. The President is the elected leader of the world’s only superpower. They will speak about a world in turmoil. From a purely human perspective, the situation looks dire. Thus, there is so much that could be discussed at this meeting since they both have vast resources at their disposal.
The Church has Her moral teachings, and wisdom garnered over the ages that is essential to any debate about the future. Completely different in nature, America has vast material resources that have often been channeled to help humanity.
Conflict or Cooperation?
Progressives are rooting that this meeting turns into a conflict. Liberal media will do everything possible to accentuate the differences between the Pope and the President. They will try to fit their meeting into a false and exaggerated narrative that would have one defending the poor and the other representing those who supposedly oppress them through their wealth and lifestyles.
There is no doubt that Pope Francis and President Trump are indeed different and disagree on many things. However, inside the realm of Catholic social doctrine, there is much about which they might and should agree.
Both the Pope and the President are known for their outspokenness. Thus, they need to speak out and denounce the world’s true evils. Both have broken conventions. They must now break the typical agendas put before them. In light of the centennial year of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, they urgently need to address the core problems that have caused men to go awry.
For this reason, it would be helpful if Pope and President were to talk about three things upon which they might agree and which few can deny.
Addressing the Causes, Not the Effects
We pray that, with God’s help, they would focus on the causes of the present crisis. It is easy to see that they might disagree on the means to deal with the dangerous effects of the world crisis. Let them at least agree on its causes.
Without addressing causes, it is impossible to solve problems. No amount of money can fill the void when problems perpetuate themselves and grow ever larger due to causes that are allowed to fester. Yet this outlook is typically absent from today’s postmodern world that prefers to deal with the sensational and immediate symptoms.
Thus, when discussing the problem of countless refugees that seek asylum in the West, for example, the two should explore and denounce the causes that induce the refugees to flee.
It should be easy to agree that immigrants will cease to migrate if they no longer want to leave their home country. The goal should not be to settle people in foreign lands but to give priority to restoring conditions for them to live in their native lands, whether this be Syria, Venezuela, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Libya or Cuba, which these immigrants love and where they desire to live in peace.
It is evident that they might disagree on the means of alleviating the effects of poverty. Let them at least agree on the causes. It is easy to agree that much of today’s poverty finds its origin in failed communist, socialist, or Islamist regimes with their shattered economies, broken families, uprooted communities and empty churches. The goals should be to favor the moral restoration of society so that healthy families build vigorous communities that allow them to flourish and prosper.
A Restoration of Order
The second thing the Pope and the President can agree on is the need for order. They may not agree on the means to reach this order, but it is evident to all that the world is in disorder. An order is needed.
As Russell Kirk affirmed, order is the first need of the soul and society. Without it, there can be no justice, peace, law or freedom.
Order calls for things to work in function of their nature and final end. Thus there is disorder in a society in which human life is mercilessly killed and marriage is undermined. There is disorder in the frenetic intemperance of the times in which people at all levels must have everything instantly and effortless as an entitlement. There is above all disorder in sin that severs one’s peace with God.
And thus Pope and President might agree there must be a moral order that will restore balance and unity to society. There must be notions of right and wrong that will stop the sinful killing of the unborn and elderly. These are basic concepts long lost to a relativistic society that denies the need for an order, which it labels oppressive. However, these are things the two leaders can agree on and address when they meet.
Getting it Right with God
The third thing the Pope and the President might agree on is the need to turn to God at this crucial period of history. All the efforts of men might appear great but they are nothing in the face of an almighty and infinitely benevolent God who desires the eternal salvation of sinful man.
How much good can be done if they would proclaim that the ultimate solutions to the world’s problems lie in getting it right with God, and then put action to their words. Again, this is an obvious conclusion since the complexity, gridlock and disproportion associated with the present crises far exceed the capacity of world leaders to resolve them.
Nor would such a declaration depart from tradition. From time immemorial, American presidents have called upon God to bless America. In this special Fatima year, it would be especially appropriate to do so again, formally, in such a privileged forum.
An Excellent Starting Point
When Pope and President meet in Rome, action on these three points will make the encounter stand out in history. Correctly defining causes and the need for order would be an excellent starting point toward solutions. A contrite and humble admission of the world’s two leaders of God’s indispensable role could not but impress a suffering world… and, more importantly, a just and merciful God.
And as happened in Fatima a hundred years ago, it will also impress and even shake the certainties of those in the liberal establishment who habitually banish God from His rightful place in society and who disregard and even ridicule His fundamental role in history and the lives of men.