Argument About Vatican Having Walls Not Quite Right

Vatican City isn't surrounded by them
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 19, 2016 8:20 AM CST
Argument About Vatican Having Walls Not Quite Right
Pope Francis delivers a blessing from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica.   (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)

When Pope Francis suggested Donald Trump's plan to build a wall between the US and Mexico was "not Christian," Trump's senior adviser shot back. "Amazing comments from the pope—considering Vatican City is 100% surrounded by massive walls," Dan Scavino tweeted Thursday. Rush Limbaugh said much the same thing, as did Trump himself later that night. But that's not exactly true, as several media outlets and Twitter users point out. Yes, there are some big walls, but "it isn't all surrounded by walls, and it's not like you need a separate visa or a passport to enter," Gerard Mannion, a Catholic studies professor at Georgetown, tells the New York Times.

"You wouldn't know, almost, when you even entered Vatican City," he continues. "There is a white line painted on the ground in St. Peter's Square, but that kind of thing is not obvious everywhere." There are walls keeping visitors away from Pope Francis' guesthouse, but a second Catholic studies professor at the school points out that's standard for government buildings, noting, "You can't just walk into the White House." Some Vatican walls were built in the ninth century to ward off barbarians—other medieval cities had them, too. And Mannion says segments that came in the 15th and 16th centuries were less about defense and more about conveying the pope's "cultural and political power," as the Times puts it. "This pope didn't build them—and he certainly didn't build them to keep out poor migrants," a priest says, per CNN. (More Vatican stories.)

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