Today Pope Francis gave his much anticipated speech to a joint meeting of Congress.
Pity poor John Boehner. Because of his speakership position, he, along with Vice President Joe Biden, is required to sit behind the speaker’s podium. With his face on constant display, there was no place for the man known for his blubbering to hide.
Watching Boehner give frequent use to his white hanky, you could just sense the two thoughts going through the devout Catholic’s head -“What the hell was I thinking inviting this liberal Pope to speak” and, “I am surely going to hell.”
What I can only describe as an amazing repudiation of the Republican credo, the Pope presented a well thought-out, well-reasoned version of the American progressive manifesto: the belief in social and economic justice; the dignity of all humans; the caring for the less fortunate, the belief in compromise, the rejection of greed. The Pope, as anticipated, did speak of the sanctity of all life, but he carried that thought through to his opposition of the death penalty.
While the Pope’s speech touched on specific hot bottom items such as immigration, income inequality, climate change and the horrors of war, his sermon was mostly inspirational. The Pope’s loudest applause came when he reminded the audience of the Christian “Golden Rule”: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
Will the Popes speech change the hearts of Republican conservatives? Unlikely. Will our nation’s political discourse become less shrill? Probably not. But the Pope’s speech undoubtedly put the fear of God into many a conservative, fundamentalist heart … “I’m a hypocrite and I’m going to hell!”
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