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Pope Francis Goes to Washington

Posted September 24th, 2015 at 4:25 pm (UTC-4)
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Pope Francis is a Politician. He has No Other Choice

Elizabeth Breunig – The New Republic

Indeed, throughout Francis’s tenure as pope, critics have wondered if his interest in politics, perhaps the most worldly of earthly affairs, is unbefitting of the Vicar of Christ. “The charge that the pope is too political is not new,” history professor Walter Moss noted in a February essay, “and has just intensified in right-wing circles since Rush Limbaugh claimed in 2013 that the pope’s words regarding capitalism were ‘just pure Marxism.’” Perhaps distantly echoing Limbaugh’s disdain for papal politics, this year’s slate of GOP candidates have been quick to dismiss Francis’s approach to politics and economics, with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently saying, “The fact is that his infallibility is on religious matters, not on political ones.”

Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 24, 2015 making history as the first pope to do so. (AP)

Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 24, 2015 making history as the first pope to do so. (AP)

Implicit in Christie’s remark—and in much anxiety about Francis’s focus on politics—is the idea that the realm of religion and its moral considerations is somehow separate from the world of politics.

In reality, politics is as much a moral theater as any other human activity. And we all bring our morals into politics.

The Invincible Ignorance of Pope Francis

Rich Lowry – Politico Magazine

The Catholic Church’s traditional discomfort with modernity happens to have some cachet at this moment, especially when it is wrapped in the fashionable causes of income inequality and climate change. In this sense, Pope Francis is (inadvertently) a genius marketeer by taking crackpot attitudes about economic development and getting them a respectful hearing.

Christina Toth from Boyds, Maryland waits to see Pope Francis arrive at the White House, Sept. 23, 2015. (A. Pande/VOA)

Christina Toth from Boyds, Maryland waits to see Pope Francis arrive at the White House, Sept. 23, 2015. (A. Pande/VOA)

He has written that “we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase,” as if that’s a bad thing. Judging by the charming footage of bishops using their iPhones to take pictures of the pope when he arrived for a service at St. Matthew’s in Washington, there was not a flip-phone among them.

There was a time when the American economy would have been much more to the pope’s liking, when people on the frontier grew their own food and made their own goods. Their lives were characterized by ceaseless labor from dawn to dusk, and by routine exposure to harrowing dangers. Childbirth was so risky that, a book on a Central Illinois town in this period notes, “a man often outlived two wives, and sometimes three, or even four.”

Good times.

Pope Francis Will Not Help Your Political Cause

Paul Waldman – The Week

I suppose you can’t blame the political press for interpreting the pope’s trip through the lens of politics, since it’s their job to view everything through the lens of politics. And it’s true that the pope is visiting the White House and giving an address before a joint session of Congress while he’s here. But is he really going to change the nature of any of the serious partisan arguments we have?

It’s not too likely, because no matter how popular Francis might be, nobody here is just going to do what he says on any issue just because he’s the pope.

Pope Francis reaches to give a blessing to Sophie Cruz, 5, from suburban Los Angeles, during a parade in Washington, Sept. 23, 2015. Cruz said she managed to deliver a message to the pope. "I believe I have the right to live with my parents,'' Sophie said later in the day. "I have the right to be happy. My dad works very hard in a factory galvanizing pieces of metal. All immigrants just like my dad feed this country. They deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to live with respect.'' (AP)

Pope Francis reaches to give a blessing to Sophie Cruz, 5, from suburban Los Angeles, during a parade in Washington, Sept. 23, 2015. Cruz said she managed to deliver a message to the pope. “I believe I have the right to live with my parents,” Sophie said later in the day. “I have the right to be happy. My dad works very hard in a factory galvanizing pieces of metal. All immigrants just like my dad feed this country. They deserve to live with dignity. They deserve to live with respect.” (AP)

The Pope’s Critics Have it Wrong

Jeff Nesbit – U.S. News and World Report

Implicit in the pope’s message on energy and the poor is this core fact: Fossil fuels make it hard to breathe, particularly for the poor who live in cities and neighborhoods with the worst air pollution. There are more than 600,000 premature deaths each year in India alone due to air pollution, largely driven by the burning of fossil fuels.

The poor pay the heaviest price of fossil fuel pollution. Childhood asthma has dramatically increased in inner cities, and asthma disproportionately strikes the poor, who are at least 50 percent more likely to have the disease than those not living in poverty. So the pope is speaking directly to easing the burden on the poor when he speaks about easing environmental pollution and degradation of our “common home.”

OK, so the pope is actually looking out for the poor. But he’s still a Marxist/leftist sort of a pope, with all his bashing of capitalism, right? Well, no. Francis’ critique of the injustices and inequalities of the modern market system has a long, honored tradition in the Catholic Church, stretching back to the Gospels and up to his more recent predecessors. Dismissing his argument as political ignores its deep foundation in moral analysis.

Pope Francis and President Barack Obama wave to onlookers before heading into a meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 23, 2015. (Aru Pande/VOA)

Pope Francis and President Barack Obama wave to onlookers before heading into a meeting in the Oval Office, Sept. 23, 2015. (VOA)

Pope Francis Should Visit Walmart or Costco

Mark Skousen – The Daily Caller

Pope Francis is famous for being critical of the capitalist system and “trickle down” economics. “Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless,” he wrote recently. “As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.”

He might change his mind about the invisible hand of free-enterprise capitalism for the average consumer and the working poor if he were to visit a local Walmart and Costco store, two famous innovations of American business.

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