Progressives are getting a boost of confidence as Pope Francis sides with them on major issues
Pope Francis arrived in the United States in the late afternoon hours on Tuesday. His trip to America has been greatly anticipated since he first became Pope in March of 2013. He seemed from the start to be a Pope of the people – someone who could relate to and empathize with the struggles of the poor, the disenfranchised and the common. In short, he seemed less like a politician and more like an approachable friend who just happened to be the head of one of the largest religious bodies in the world.
Pope Francis is a priest, to be sure, and an exceptional one at that. At the same time, however, he is a Head of State, and it is in this capacity that he comes to the United States. He spoke to a joint session of Congress on Thursday morning and will be delivering further talks on each of his remaining stops. Some will be in the capacity as a Head of State, and others will be as Holy Father of the Catholic Church.
What is to be noted about Pope Francis, however, is how closely aligned these two hats are on his papal head. The Head of State Francis and the Holy Father Pope Francis have a united message when it comes to politics in the United States and around the world. His positions on matters of political importance are stark, specific, global in their reach, and practiced in his own Vatican policies.
Pope Francis shares political philosophies with Progressives in America when it comes to three very important and divisive issues: namely, the distribution of wealth, climate change and immigration reform. These are issues the Pope believes should be governmental concerns – concerns about which the government should create and enforce policy.
His stance from the very beginning on the need of governments worldwide to address the needs of the poor has remained remarkably consistent. His choice to practice what he preaches by living in the Vatican guest house, shunning the Papal limousines and wearing much less ornate robes has helped garner him the reputation of a Pope focused on social concerns. Francis has consistently spoken on and acted upon the severe needs of the poor. He has reached out to those in prison and responded personally to many of the marginalized of this world.
Pope Francis’s concerns about climate change are equally well known. In his speech at the White House this week, he commended President Obama on the actions he is taking to address climate change. The Pope believes climate change to be a governmental concern, and one which the United States should be leading the way to solve. This is something Progressives have been speaking, no yelling about, for decades. To have Pope Francis speak in the affirmative about how we are beginning to proceed to deal with this issue is extremely important to the progressive movement.
When it comes to immigration reform, the United States is at a crossroads. During this upcoming Presidential election cycle, we will undoubtedly hear many different opinions on immigration and how we should tackle this delicate issue. For those like Donald Trump who do not have a delicate bone in their bodies, immigration is simply a matter of keeping people out. In fact, Donald Trump put it this way:
“I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” Donald Trump at a campaign announcement, June 16, 2015
Pope Francis, on the other hand, marries his religious beliefs to his politics when he said to Congress:
“We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible as we educate new generations not to turn their backs on our “neighbors” and everything around us.” Pope Francis to The U.S. Congress, September 24, 2015
Francis is a priest who happens to be Pope, and as such he happens to be a politician. As a politician, Pope Francis could certainly teach our politicians a thing or two, not the least of which is how to get things done. After all, he has already proven how shrewd a political leader he is.
When it comes to the state he leads, Pope Francis’s leadership at the Vatican is replete with reformation. Since March of 2013, he has reorganized the its bureaucracy and sorted out the terribly scandal-ridden Vatican Bank. He has done this with great patience and mercy, but he has decisively done it. He has taken very action on issues of governance in much the same way that President Obama claimed he would in 2007 when he promised to end the corruption in Washington. Sadly, Obama was not able to be quite as effective as the Pope. Our system is different, sure, but our principles should not be.
The Pope will be in my hometown of Philadelphia for the weekend. I hope I get the chance to see him. I doubt I will get close at all, but it will be enough for me to get a look at the man who just might be changing the face of world politics for a very long time. And that really is kind of everything.