It’s hard to find an issue that doesn’t divide Republicans in 2015, and Pope Francis’s visit to Congress was no exception. This pontiff has been almost radical in his approach to Catholic doctrine, easing the church’s tone on gay marriage, abortion, and several other issues, winning over lapsed Christians who wanted religion without all the messy morality. This led Republicans to fear that Francis would use his speech to oppose the GOP agenda.
Others insisted there was no cause for concern. Francis wasn’t going to step into a political minefield, courting controversy for no good reason. He would preach a message of love and hope, leaving it up to each listener how they might apply that message to their politics.
Not only were the optimistic Republicans wrong, even the wary conservatives couldn’t have predicted just how lopsided the Pope’s speech would be. Were it not for his thick accent and white robes, you could have easily mistaken him for a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party. Hell, there are probably a handful of actual Democratic congressmen whose policies are to the right of the Pope’s. After all, there aren’t many Democrats actively calling for the end of capitalism.
Francis jumped into it right away, setting the tone without preamble. “Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion,” he said.
But instead of building on that with some pointed remarks about Islamic terrorism, Francis instead took a page out of Obama’s playbook. “We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind.”
Yes, ISIS is bad, folks. But hey, Christianity…boy, some stuff happened hundreds of years ago that you wouldn’t believe. So even though Islamic radicals are killing innocents by the truckload, let’s pretend like every religion is equally dangerous. Good stuff.
If Republicans were shifting uncomfortably in their seats already, Francis was only getting started. For the next hour, the pontiff gave his thoughts on:
Politics is an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life.
On this continent, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children?
The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development…
This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.
I call for a courageous and responsible effort to redirect our steps and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity.
What a mouthful. If Hillary Clinton is forced out of the race (or taken away in handcuffs), maybe Democrats can persuade Francis to run in her place. That’ll be tricky when it comes to the whole citizenship thing, but hey, where there’s a will there’s a way.