When the Washington Times brandishes the banner headline “Obama finds an ally on political controversies at the Vatican,” it may be time to step back and assess what exactly is transpiring.
From income inequality to Cuba and soon to global warming, it seems that Pope Francis is doing some heavy lifting for President Obama, his political agenda, and his legacy. That’s not to say that’s what the Pope intends; it is to say that this may very well be the outcome of what the Pope actually doing.
Suffice it to say, the Pope’s interests are primarily evangelical. Economic structures that enrich the few but keep the many impoverished are certainly immoral. Only plutocrats would disagree. Political structures that accrue power to the few but exclude the many from the process are certainly immoral. Only oligarchs would disagree. Destroying the Earth’s biosphere is certainly immoral. Only the most virulent “anti-greenies” would disagree.
Yet, Pope Francis appears to be completely tone deaf to the message that his actions communicate. He’s providing President Obama cover to advance an economic, political, and environmental agenda that is more ideological than rooted in economic, political, and environmental fact. Imagine what would have been said if President John F. Kennedy had said the following about St. John XXIII in December 1962, as President Obama did about Pope Francis in December 2014:
He played a very important role. The pope doesn’t wield armies. He can’t impose sanctions. But he can speak with great moral authority, and it makes a difference. And it certainly made a difference in this case.
What’s especially troubling is how the Pope’s actions embolden liberal Catholic American politicians, most of whom are Democrat, to promote the Pope’s actions while advocating their ideologically-driven economic, political, and environmental policies. Again, that isn’t the Pope’s intention; but, his actions do allow others to politicize them for their own personal and partisan ends, as if Pope Francis is goading them on.
The problem, it seems, is not with the Pope’s agenda as much as it is the way the Pope’s agenda appears to be one-sided. While he will assert very strong moral opinions about economic, political, and apparently, environmental injustices, Pope Francis seems not to be very interested in or much inclined to be equally assertive in expressing Church teaching when it comes to grave moral errors like abortion, divorce/remarriage, and homosexuality.
That the Pope is touted in the press as one of President Obama’s “greatest allies” is disconcerting at best. Income inequality, unjust political structures, and the environment are important issues that politicians must deal with and, yes, they should consult with religious figures across the globe to find moral ways to resolve those issues. Yet, this Pope appears to believe it more important to articulate his solutions to these issues forcibly which, in turn, provides diplomatic cover for politicians, than he is to express with equal vigor and clarity their abject failure to address the grave moral errors of this era.
As the Washington Times, noted:
“It’s not quite a gift from God but, politically, it may be the next best thing.”
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