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Welcome Papa Francisco!
Pope Francis I arrives in the United States today. Frankly, I’m pretty amazed at the itinerary this 78 year-old man will maintain.  He’ll be in New York on the 24th and 25th and my daughter is still trying to score tickets for an event.  I hope she’s fortunate enough to get them.
Today and tomorrow, Pope Francis will be in Washington.  I imagine everyone will be invoking his name in support of their favorite policies.  I also imagine everyone will be disappointed if they really listen to what he has to say.  Conservatives have already been sounding alarm bells about the Pope’s “socialist” views. One member of Congress, Paul Gosar, Republican (surprise!!) of Arizona says he will not attend the Pope’s address to a joint session of Congress because Pope Francis has “adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into ‘climate justice’ and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies.”  Well.  Fine, Congressman.  Don’t go. Can my daughter have your ticket
My friends on the left seem to love what they hear from the Pope on matters concerning the environment, climate change and income inequality.  I don’t think they’ll be too pleased by what, if anything, he has to say about abortion.  One writer has noted: “Francis unflinchingly maintains the church’s ancient teaching about the sanctity of human life and total opposition to abortion. Although he has urged Catholics to drop their ‘obsession’ with such issues, Francis would also stand with his predecessors against gay marriage. In fact, he clashed with the Argentinian government when it was expanding marriage to include same-sex couples.”  This really should come as a shock.  Francis is a pastor, not a politician.  He simply does not fir into the American political paradigm.  It’s a shame, in this election season, so many politicians wrap themselves in the mantle of religion and now try to use the words of a holy man for their short-sighted political ends.
It became clear in the last couple days that not everyone in this country-even those running for President!!- believe politics and religion should be separate.  I do. Should our political choices be informed by our religious backgrounds, experiences and beliefs? Of course. Should anyone of any religion be disqualified from holding office for that reason? Of course not.  The Pope is a well-educated, sincere, prayerful and, in my view, loving man.  I believe he’s worth a listen-even if you don’t believe in God.  We may not agree with everything Pope Francis says but I believe it behooves us to listen with open minds and check our agendas at the door.

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