The Politics of the Pope


Alex Huibsch, Editor-In-Chief

When Pope Francis arrived to the United States, both sides of the political spectrum manifested a mixture of hope and trepidation in response to the Pope’s emphasis on some controversial issues he addressed. By weighing in on  immigration, homelessness, and climate change (extremely debated issues), the Pope seemed to spur a significant reaction of support, not only by his followers but also liberal voters and politicians. Conversely, the right seemed to yield a more caustic response to the immensely popular 78-year-old and his blunt criticism on right-wing opinions of such issues. Initially, what aroused many liberals and disgruntled conservatives was the Pope’s effort to bring before the United Nations and Congress awareness of the “hostility” towards immigrants, the severity of climate change, and the unfair distribution of wealth. “What the Pope has been saying in a very profound and deep way is the casino-type capitalism is causing devastating problems,” said Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders.

Furthermore, beyond lecturing the American halls of power, the Pope’s trip also consisted of making numerous stops in Washington D.C., New York City, and Philadelphia to greet people and commune with his followers. One of the larger events was the open-air Mass in Philadelphia that took place on Sunday. Kristen Bushka, a 36-year-old Philadelphia resident caught a glimpse of the Pope during the Mass and suggested his messages cut across party lines. “You see Democrats taking from his speeches and you see Republicans taking from his speeches,” Bushka said. “I don’t think the pope has a political agenda. I think what he says is relatable to everyone.” Whether the effect on U.S. politics is immense or miniscule, the Pope’s visit genuinely displayed his secular opinion on many controversial issues.

That being said, he did not address abortion or same-sex marriage, two issues the Catholic Church unanimously dispel. If one thing’s for certain, the Pope has most definitely changed the tone of the Catholic Church. However, the agenda and traditional viewpoints will most likely not go unturned under one single Papal administration. Ultimately, the Pope’s weeklong visit to the United States suggests an even broader test to the conundrum of religion and politics in the United States, and the extent to which they sway important ethical issues.