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Friday, January 28, 2022

The Pope, Policy And American Politics

President Obama and the First Lady was set to welcome His Holiness Pope Francis to the White House on Wednesday, September 23, during his first trip to the United States. During the visit, the President and the Pope will continue the dialogue that began during the President's visit to the Vatican in March 2014 (pictured), when they discussed their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues. Photo/The White House.
President Obama and the First Lady was set to welcome His Holiness Pope Francis to the White House on Wednesday, September 23, during his first trip to the United States. During the visit, the President and the Pope will continue the dialogue that began during the President’s visit to the Vatican in March 2014 (pictured), when they discussed their shared values and commitments on a wide range of issues. Photo/The White House.

NEWS ANALYSIS

By Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15

“The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant.” Isaiah 24:5

Pope Francis is touring the West with stops in Cuba and the United States much to the dismay of some conservatives. One of the most vicious attacks has come from columnist George Will: “Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false, and deeply reactionary.” Will considers the Pope to be a false prophet.

What is it that has conservatives, even some American Catholic members of Congress so upset? Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) has chosen to boycott the Holy Father’s speech before Congress saying, “If the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time. But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous…When the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.”

GOP presidential hopeful and devout Catholic Rick Santorum has stated publicly, “The church has gotten it wrong a few times on science…We probably are better off leaving science to the scientists, and focusing on what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.” Santorum forgets that Francis studied chemistry before entering the seminary and the Bible calls for us to be good stewards of this planet.

As President Obama came to realize that over 50 years of economic embargos and other aggressive tactics against Cuba were not only failing but were out of step with the rest of world, he turned to the first Latin American Pope, Pope Francis for help.  The long-standing US Cuba policy was not only a problem with Cuba, it also has proven be a problem with relations between the US and other Latin American countries. The Pope played a crucial role in US-Cuba rapprochement, culminating in the re-opening of embassies after more than 50 years of stalemate.

Pope Francis is challenging the poor and oppressed of the world to change the global economic order. He denounced the “new colonialism” of agencies that impose austerity programs and called for the poor to have the “sacred rights” of labor, lodging and land. Quoting the fourth century Bishop Basil of Caesarea, he called the unfettered pursuit of money “the dung of the devil”, and said poor countries should not be reduced to being providers of raw material and cheap labor for developed countries.

It is important to note that Pope Francis has not changed church dogma or theology; he’s changing tone.  It’s important to understand that tone changes long before policy changes.

Why do conservatives fear this Pope? They fear the impact that Pope Francis’ change in tone and his directives on tolerance and acceptance could have on less conservative, moderate Catholic Republicans.  What impact could the Pope’s increased tolerance of divorced (and remarried) lay people receiving the sacrament of Communion and his statement “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” have on the Christian conservative mantra of “family values”?

The Republican Party’s opposition to social programs is directly threatened by the Pope’s challenges to the poor to change the global economic order and calls for them to have the “sacred rights” of labor, lodging and land could have tremendous impact on the US political landscape.  If conservative Whites in America begin to heed the Pope’s clarion call, a real shift in the political dynamic could take place.

If American conservatives and some Democrats can rally behind Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu as he addressed Congress and articulated jingoistic war-mongering policies that will only result in more catastrophic and costly wars; why can’t they at least listen to Pope Francis and give peace a chance?  What is it about his policies and possible impacts on policy that make even Catholic conservatives challenge their Pope?

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