My Take on Pope Francis’ Message to Congress and to America

Pope Francis speaking to crowdYesterday, Pope Francis addressed the United States Congress. As many do, I admire and have great respect for the Pope. I am certain, however, that his message will have little or no impact on Congress and the way it currently functions—or fails to function. Nothing short of an act of God can change the culture in that branch of our Government.

If you have heard the Pope’s message, you probably do not agree with all of his positions. Nevertheless, I believe that what he said is worthy of our consideration. Here is my take on his message to Congress and to America:

One, Pope Francis’ message was not loyal to either political party. His positions on immigration and global warming are more consistent with our more liberal population. But when it comes to areas such as abortion and same-sex marriage, the Pope seems to be more aligned with conservatives. That would suggest that portions of his message were uncomfortable to both conservative and liberal lawmakers. But as a church leader, Pope Francis does not need to stick to the script of any segment of Congress or of the United States, and he did not.

By contrast, in America, many of our church leaders today are too loyal to a political party. By that I mean they seem to be unwilling to break rank with the partisan view even when they know they should.

Two, in Pope Francis’ message, he leveraged his moral authority to challenge us to become a more compassionate country. In this vein, he addressed the death penalty, care for the poor, immigration, care for the earth, and dialogue between nations in the interest of peace. Just imagine how that portion of his message went over with Congress. So much polarization currently exists between Democratic and Republican lawmakers with regard to these social issues. The divide is so deep that our Government is virtually dysfunctional.

Three, Pope Francis’ message might not have been a political message, but it was smack dab in the middle of politics. Think about it. Why was Pope Francis invited to speak to our houses of Congress? He is not a political leader but spiritual. Specifically, he is the leader of the Roman Catholic Church, the largest religious body in the world. The truth is that many of the political challenges that we face have a moral component. We can be cold-hearted and divisive in addressing these issues. Or we can take a more compassionate and Christlike approach. God has blessed Pope Francis with the platform to challenge lawmakers to choose the latter. And that the people’s Pope did on yesterday.

Though not Catholic, I am encouraged by the exuberant reception of the Pope’s visit to America. The excitement among the large crowds of the faithful to see and to touch him was such a powerful thing to behold. It suggests that perhaps God can still have a place in our Government. To me, that is our only hope.

Copyright © 2015 by Frank King. All rights reserved.