Tag Archives: Pope Francis

POTUS to Pope: God love ya

Leave it to President Biden to, um, offer an everyman’s salutation to one of the world’s most beloved religious leaders.

Biden has flown to Rome to meet with our economic allies as part of the G20 summit. He paid a call on Pope Francis I in the Vatican.

At the end of the meeting, the president of the United States — the second Catholic ever elected to our nation’s highest political office — told the Holy Father, “God love ya.”

I don’t know how His Holiness responded to it. I trust that he took it in stride. Hey, he’s God’s vicar on Earth. I am sure he has heard just about all there is to hear from God’s other fallible human creatures.

Nice going, Mr. President.


More like a stand-up double, maybe, Mr. President

The president of the United States believes he “hit a home run” on his first trip abroad as head of state.

I believe I will disagree with Donald J. Trump on that one.

‚ÄúBut we have been gone for close to nine days. This will be nine days. And I think we hit a home run no matter where we are,‚ÄĚ Trump said in Italy as he prepared to return home — and into the political maelstrom that awaits.

Let’s review:

* He started in Saudi Arabia and delivered an acceptable speech to a room full of kings, presidents¬†and potentates about the threat of international terrorism. It’s interesting that he would make such a speech in a country that has done next to nothing to curb its breeding of terrorists. Hey, wasn’t Osama bin Laden a Saudi native?

* Trump ventured to Israel, where was met by government officials who were steamed that he revealed classified secrets to Russian visitors earlier that had come from Israeli intelligence officials. Lord knows what Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu likely told him in private.

* Then he went to the Vatican and met with Pope Francis, who he had criticized while campaigning for the presidency because the Holy Father disagreed with some public policy statements the candidate had made.

* Trump then ventured to Brussels, where he scolded NATO allies because some of them aren’t paying enough for the defense of Europe against Russian threats and those threats¬†presented by terrorists. The reactions of the heads of state and government who heard the lecture couldn’t have been more instructive; they couldn’t believe the president would dress them down in such a public manner.


Along the way, the president was met with concern, a bit of anger over past statements. By my way of reasoning, he didn’t do much to assuage the concerns of world leaders who are concerned about the absence of any public service experience in his background.

Home run, Mr. President? Hardly. I’d say you hit — maybe — a stand-up double.

Pope Francis: evolution is biblical, too


Pope Francis is my kind of holy man.

The head of the Catholic Church has declared that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and the Bible’s account of creation aren’t mutually exclusive.

Imagine that.


“Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution, because evolution requires the creation of beings¬†that evolve,” the pope told the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Of course, this is the same spiritual authority who has spoken out about climate change and global warming. And why not? He’s a scientist by training and education.

I’ve long been able to justify evolution with the way the Bible describes the creation of the universe. I’ve never been able to accept that Scripture’s account that God created Earth in six days and then rested on the seventh meant that he did all of that in seven calendar days as we understand the measurement of time.

The Holy Father also said he doesn’t believe that God is a “magician” who waved a “magic wand” that enabled him to anything he wanted. “That is not so,” the pope said.

Sure, it’s nice that I happen to agree with the Holy Father on this point.

He’s a lot closer to God than I am. But if I am interpreting his view of how the world was created, I am going to presume he sees the Bible as a sort of holy metaphor.

The world isn’t really 6,000 years old, as some have said in interpreting Scripture literally, word for word.

That’s what I have believed since I was old enough to read about such things. I’m glad that the head of one of the world’s great religions agrees with me.

Does he agree with your view of the world?

Pope’s statement careless, wise all at once


Pope Francis was correct to suggest that nations shouldn’t build walls, but should instead erect bridges.

That’s as far as his wisdom extends.

The pontiff demonstrated a remarkably tin political ear when he suggested that “anyone who builds walls” isn’t a Christian, which a clear shot at Republican presidential frontrunner Donald J. Trump.

The pope should have known that Trump would respond as he has done. He should have anticipated the firestorm he would create when he weighed in on the American presidential campaign.

He didn’t do that. Yes, the pope tried to take back some of what he said initially. It was too late to tamp down Trump’s anger — not to mention the anger of those who are supporting his presidential candidacy.

The Washington Post does take note of the fundamental message the pope sought to deliver, which is that we should treat each other with more humanity. We shouldn’t fall into the trap of demonization.

Of course the pope’s comments drew a sharp response from those who have noted the Vatican — where the pope lives — also is surrounded by walls. Hmmm. Well, I would simply add that the comparison isn’t entirely an accurate one, given the security concerns that the pontiff, whoever he is, has faced for centuries from those who would seek to do harm to him and the Catholic Church.

Whatever his noble intentions, the pope — if you’ll pardon the indelicate language — has managed to step in it.


Weirdness overtakes reason on campaign trail


It’s been like this for some time now.

Probably since the day in June 2015 when Donald J. Trump — the one-time reality TV celebrity and real estate mogul — entered the Republican Party presidential primary campaign.

Events of the past 24 hours, though, have brought about a level of weirdness that I don’t think many of us ever saw coming.

It involves Trump and — of all people — his Holiness, Pope Francis I, the head of the Catholic Church.

The pontiff is touring Mexico and he said that anyone who wants to build a wall to bar immigrants is “not Christian.” He said Scripture doesn’t condone such a thing. I should note that Pope Francis made his remarks in Spanish and they have been interpreted into English; I trust the translation is accurate.

Trump fired back, calling the pope’s criticism of an American politician’s faith “disgraceful.”

Trump kept up his criticism of the pope. To my knowledge, the pope hasn’t yet answered the GOP frontrunner’s criticism of him.

I am just not certain now where this campaign goes from here. Nor do I have a clue as to how it could get even stranger.

But you know what? Given that I never thought it would devolve to this level — with the pope and a leading American politician at odds over a proposal to build a wall — I am preparing myself for the weirdness level to keep escalating.


Religion collides with politics


Didn’t someone once suggest that you shouldn’t ever discuss religion and politics?

Here we are, then. Talking about both things in the same sentence.

Pope Francis I decided to weigh in with remarks about Republican presidential frontrunner Donald J. Trump’s proposal to build a wall across our southern border to keep illegal immigrants from entering the United States.

Anyone who’d propose such a thing, the pontiff, said isn’t a Christian.

Trump fired back. Trump called¬†the pope’s view “disgraceful” and said, by golly, he’s a devout Christian.

Others on the right are criticizing the pope for engaging in this political discussion in the first place. Who is this guy? they wonder. What qualifies him to comment on the American political system?

Let’s take a breath.

Maybe the pope made his statement in Spanish, or Italian, or Latin and it got mistranslated.

Surely, too, he isn’t the first public figure — American or otherwise — to drag religion into a campaign for a secular political office. U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy faced intense¬†suspicion over his Catholic faith in the 1960 campaign and he ended up dispelling much of it with a speech in Houston in which he said he’d follow the Constitution and would not — contrary to allegations — be a puppet for the Vatican.

And there have been others as well.

I don’t think it’s unreasonable for the pope — a renowned international public figure — to weigh in on a U.S. public policy discussion. He’s entitled to his view.

It’s that it has ignited a firestorm that makes me¬†uncomfortable when I hear politicians feeling forced to defend their religious beliefs while seeking an office to which they will take an oath to protect and defend a wholly secular document.

That would be the Constitution of the United States.


Listen to the pope on climate change


Pope Francis’s critics are fond of dismissing his concern about climate change because, they contend, he “is not a scientist.”

Well, actually, he does have some background in science.

But the point here really is the utter lack of self-awareness from politicians who deny climate change largely on the basis that those who have concern about lack a background in the science that researches such issues.

The deniers would do well to ask themselves: Is our denial of climate change on any stronger scientific footing than those with whom we disagree on this issue?

Pope has science background

The debate over climate change veers into these distractions from time to time. The pope comes to America and delivers a wide-ranging message that covers a lot of topics. Climate change is one of them.

Pope Francis is an intelligent man who, I reckon, has done his share of reading on the important issues of the day. His critics have done their reading as well; of that I have zero doubt.

Let us not dismiss someone’s view of a critical issue that could have worldwide repercussions simply because — in the words of Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush — he’s just a “religious leader.”

Pope Francis called on Congress to be courageous and aggressive in working with the rest of the world on climate change. Yes, the cause of that change remains a source of intense debate: is it manmade or part of Earth’s cycle? The consensus, though, seems to be growing that humankind has played a large role in the gradual warming of the planet’s temperatures over many decades.

The Holy Father — a former chemist — is one of those who believes humans need to step up to¬†clean up¬†the mess we have made of the only planet we have.


Pope steps into U.S. political struggle


Pope Francis got a lot of love from Americans during his whirlwind trip to the United States.

Much of it is deserved. I join many others in applauding the Holy Father’s humanity and humility.

Then he said something today that I find, well, not quite so praiseworthy. He said upon returning to the Vatican that U.S. elected officials have the right to object to performing their duties on matters of conscience.

At issue: gay marriage.

Your Holiness, I believe you are mistaken.

Francis gets it wrong

There, I said it. I hope I’m not struck down for criticizing the pope.

“Conscientious objection must enter into every judicial structure, because it is a right,‚ÄĚ he told reporters while flying to Rome.

Fans and allies of embattled Rowan (Ky.) County Clerk Kim Davis are no doubt cheering the pontiff. She has refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples on the basis of her religious faith, which she said opposes gay marriage.

The pope agrees with her, which is his right.

Back to his point about “conscientious objection.” Americans who get elected to public office take a secular oath, even though many of the oaths instruct them to say “so help me God.” Still, the standard oath doesn’t give officeholders the option to object to doing certain duties because their conscience won’t allow it.

It’s a secular oath that binds the officeholder to upholding the laws of the land.

The Supreme Court upheld a challenge to a law — in Kentucky — that banned gay marriage. A gay couple sued and the high court ruled earlier this year that the Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law for gay couples who want to marry.

So, the county clerk must follow the law.

She is free to quit her public job. She also is free to campaign as a private citizen to make gay marriage illegal. Contrary to what the Holy Father believes, though, Davis or any other public official isn’t free to invoke his or her personal belief in the performance of their public duty — when it discriminates against Americans.

Surely His Holiness knows this.

Hey, I still love the guy.



Speaker provides a serious stunner


John Boehner likely didn’t intend to do it, but this morning he managed to rip much of the attention away from the man — Pope Francis — who spoke Thursday to a joint session of Congress.

All the speaker did was … announce his resignation from Congress effective Oct. 30.

Speaker drops bombshell

Although the speaker isn’t the kind of politician many of us generally¬†could support, compared to many others within his Republican Party, he became a rational voice among the dwindling ranks of¬†others like him¬†who call themselves Republicans.

“The first job of any Speaker is to protect this institution that we all love,” Boehner said. “It was my plan to only serve as Speaker until the end of last year, but I stayed on to provide continuity to the Republican Conference and the House. It is my view, however, that prolonged leadership turmoil would do irreparable damage to the institution. To that end, I will resign the Speakership and my seat in Congress on October 30.”

The turmoil wasn’t likely to abate any time soon. From my vantage point, it looks for all the world that the speaker declared today he’s had enough of the infighting that has plagued his efforts at running the House of Representatives.

What’s next? I guess Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., is the favorite to succeed Boehner. Will a new speaker be more beholden to the TEA Party wing of his party, the wing that Boehner once referred to as nut cases — or something to that effect?

Boehner’s instinct always seemed to work with Democrats, not against them. He has become hamstrung by the ideologues within his party.

Truth be told, I’m sorry to see John Boehner pack it in.

Another truth, though, is that I am surprised he lasted as long as he did.


Pope Francis set to make some uncomfortable

Pope Francis at St Peter's

Pope Francis speaks like a humble man.

His message, though, is lofty beyond imagination.

He’s landed in Cuba, where he’ll tell the communist rulers of the island nation to give the Catholic Church there freedom to preach the word of Jesus Christ.

Then he’ll come to Washington, where he’ll speak to a joint session of Congress and will tell lawmakers that the world mustn’t worship capitalism and, yes, it must deal with global crises, such as climate change.

Pope coming to the U.S.

The Holy Father’s critics call him a Marxist. There’s been some talk that a few Republican lawmakers will boycott the speech on Capitol Hill. That would be a mistake, just as it was a mistake for Democrats to stay away when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to a joint congressional session to argue against the Iran nuclear deal brokered by the Obama administration.

The earthly leader of a great Christian denomination needs to be herd by legislators who help govern the world’s greatest nation, even if he says thing that make them uncomfortable.

The good news, at least as far as I’m concerned, is that the congressional chamber will be full.

Indeed, it’s not every day that the pope comes to Washington.

Welcome to the United States of America, Your Holiness.