Monday, September 21, 2015

Pope Francis, an Integral Part of US Politics?

On Tuesday September 22, Pope Francis will be making his first trip to the United States and is expected to be giving 18 speeches, one of which will be to Congress.
President Obama and Pope Francis meet at the Vatican in 2014.
After being the one to broker a deal to reestablish ties between the United States and Cuba, the Pope hopes to influence the United States public more through his progressive outlooks on issues such as climate change, immigration, foreign relations, and economic equality. With much of his opinions in compliance with President Obama’s, he has derisively earned the nickname “Obama’s pope” by conservatives (The New York Times). Yet despite the nickname, many conservatives see the Pope’s visit as an opportune moment to further push their campaign due to their religious ties as well as an opportunity to push restrictions on both abortion and Planned Parenthood.

The framers purposely avoided incorporating religion into the Constitution. With this in mind, should political parties should be able to politicize the visit of the Pope in hopes of furthering their interests?

Despite his political influence, many believe that the Pope inherently stands for the Catholic church. If this is so, then is it justified that the Pope was the one to reestablish ties between the US and Cuba?



Cecily Bohanek said...

As the U.S. works to reestablish ties with Cuba, I agree that it should be appropriate that the President meets with someone so integral to Cuba's culture. That being said, the use of the Pope's visit to further political interests seems selfish to me. Although the Pope will be making a speech to Congress, it seems that his visit should not be made out as a political venture, but a social one, connecting with the public, Catholic or otherwise. However, my view represents only one side of the debate surrounding the separation of church and state. Do you believe that a religious leader should be allowed to speak to (and influence) a large body of government at all?

Anonymous said...

I disagree with Cecily that the Pope's visit is selfish. The Pope represents the viewpoints of American Catholics, 22% of the population, and is a very well known and influential figure in the global community. By speaking to Congress, the Pope can give context for the religious and cultural perspective of Cuba. It is important that the Pope provides Congress and the US government with the information it needs to make a proper decision. Additionally, the Pope is not the only religious figure to speak to Congress. Just last year, the Dalai Lama spoke to Congress and even delivered an opening prayer. Although religion should stay out of campaigns and voting, some people are religious and it is okay to acknowledge that.

Casey Vanderlip said...

I agree with Cecily that the Pope brings in a highly religious view into the government. The popes main purpose in his visit to America is to strengthen the Catholicism in the United States. The framers were fearful of such an act. The pope is arguably the most powerful religious leader in the world and its doubtful that he will keep his religious side out of the speeches he gives to congress and other U.S citizens. While he has the right to speak his mind, I feel that the government needs to be wary about a religious influence on their decisions.

Cecily Bohanek said...

Perhaps I should clarify what I meant- I did not mean that the Pope's visit itself was selfish, but that the Congressmen and women using it for political gain is selfish.