Monday, February 9, 2015

Church and State

Pope Francis has accepted John Boehner's invitation to address a joint session of the US Congress, and President Obama is cool with it.  What's Up?

I am a libertarian with conservative values, and I love Pope Francis. He is admonishing the haughty, punishing the pedophiles and their protectors, and he is bringing Christ to people where they are, just as Jesus himself did 2,000 years ago.

What about his leftwing pronouncements on secular matters? I don't give them much attention. I respect his authority when he speaks on matters of faith and morals, but he's not an economist or a climate scientist, so I look to other sources for information on such secular topics.

Boehner is Wrong

I am a Catholic and I am against Pope Francis addressing the US Congress in September. Allowing a leader of any religion to speak before congress sets a horrible precedent, unless the circumstances are very narrow and the topic pointed and urgent. For example, a Jewish leader addressing Congress in the 1930's about growing antisemitism in Europe, or the Dalai Lama speaking about the plight of Tibetan Buddhists suffering under Chinese Communist subjugation.

What the hell is he going to say?

As a successor to Saint Peter, the Pope's job is to teach the word of God and lead Christ's Church on earth. Is he going to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to our politicians? Lord knows they need it, but it is not appropriate for any religious leader of any faith to exhort and proselytize in the US Capitol.

Is he going to preach on hot-button political issues like gay marriage, climate change, immigration and economics? Cuba? Socialized medicine? Again, not appropriate. So, I don't know what he could say.

The only way this is appropriate is if he addresses congress as the Vatican's head of state and talks about the plight of Christians and religious minorities hemmed in on all sides by packs of rabid Islamists hell-bent on the destruction of all who don't share their backward, barbaric beliefs. I would also enjoy hearing him address poverty and inequality, but without the socialist rhetoric. If he dives into partisan politics, even obliquely, he's over the line for trodding on our sovereignty and for engendering disdain for our Catholic faith from people who rightly believe foreign religious leaders should butt out of domestic politics.

Slippery Slope

Even if he confines himself to what I wish he would say, I still don't like it. A Pope addressing congress establishes a slippery slope. What next? A Phredd Phlapps fiery fundamentalist preaching homosexuals into hell and damning my church as The Whore of Babylon? What if Satanists and Wiccans demand equal time? Imagine a Wahhibi preacher extolling Big Mo's virtues and scolding The Great Satan from our own seat of government.

Granted, none of this would do us any harm, but government is already a big enough farce as it is...

If Pope Francis is the smart man I judge him to be, this will be a fluffy, feel-good speech full of innocuous sentiment that leaves everyone with a pleasant afterglow.

Related:   Foreign Leaders and Dignitaries who have addressed Congress

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