Pope Invited to Address Congress Next Year and the Spin Begins

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March 13, 2014; Reuters

Yesterday, U.S. House Speaker John Boehner issued an invitation to Pope Francis to address a joint session of Congress next year. Immediately, Republicans and Democrats alike are attempting to spin the Pope’s views on poverty and capitalism to fit with their respective agendas.

Boehner, a Catholic, said in a statement, “Pope Francis has inspired millions of Americans with his pastoral manner and servant leadership, challenging all people to lead lives of mercy, forgiveness, solidarity, and humble service.” But then he went on to try to seize the day by saying that Americans “have embraced Pope Francis’ reminder that we cannot meet our responsibility to the poor with a welfare mentality based on business calculations. We can meet it only with personal charity on the one hand and sound, inclusive policies on the other.”

Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader, is also Catholic and laid her own less wordy and overreaching claim—but then, she knows that the Pope will soon be meeting up with President Obama. “Pope Francis has lived his values and upheld his promise to be a moral force, to protect the poor and the needy, to serve as a champion of the less fortunate, and to promote love and understanding among faiths and nations,” Pelosi said.

Meanwhile, New York Magazine asks, “Can Pope Francis Bring Peace to Congress?” Immediately answering themselves with an “Almost definitely not,” its short article points out that the Pope yesterday tweeted “Please pray for me” and wondered aloud if this exhortation was related to the invite.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Ira Okun

    As a non catholic, I deeply appreciate Pope Francis and his pending visit to our dysfunctional congress. I fear his compassionate words will be manipulated by our food-stamp-denying and Koch Bros. funded congress to urge futther dependence on our over burdened and under funded non profit sector.

    We cannot do our work without the spirit, caring and cash of an intelligent congress that should, but does not see the economic and social values of good health care, food for kids , education and job creating policies.

    I can only pray that this good and rare Pope can light a fire under a fractious and” no”-nothing congress.

  • Patrick

    As a practicing Catholic, I fear the Pope’s message will be manipulated by the abortion-loving, life-denying Congress (San Fran Nan, I’m looking at you) to urge further the culture of death, including the self-serving morbid nonprofit sector (Planned Parenthood, Gates Foundation). But I know that the Holy Father will be wise as a serpent, innocent as a dove. Take your Wendy Davis shoes and shove ’em, Nancy.