Pope Francis came to town in Washington, DC, this week. On his historic first visit to the US, Pope Francis calls for a “revolution of tenderness,” and brings his powerful messages on climate change and poverty to Congress. Naturally, wingnuts don’t want to hear it.
Right-wingers have been giving Pope Francis the side-eye ever since he took up residence in the Vatican. On economics, Pope Francis is closer to Bernie Sanders than Paul Ryan. And Francis’ views on subjects like capitalism, poverty, and climate change, gave conservatives the vapors from day one.
“Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that creates huge inequalities.”
– Said in criticism of the government of Néstor Kirchner, former President of Argentina, in 2009
“Money has to serve, not rule.”
– Speech to new ambassadors to the Holy See, in 2013
“Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry. We all have to think if we can become a little poorer, all of us have to do this.”
– To students from Jesuit-run schools in Italy and Albania
On The Environment
“A very solid scientific consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system. … A number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrogen oxides and others) released mainly as a result of human activity.”
– From Pope’s encyclical on the environment, in 2015
“God always forgives, we men forgive sometimes, but nature never forgives. If you give her a slap, she will give you one. I believe that we have exploited nature too much.”
– Press conference, flight from Sri Lanka to the Philippines, January 15, 2015
On Social Issues
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge? We shouldn’t marginalise people for this. They must be integrated into society.”
– Interview with Vatican correspondents, in 2013
“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person.”
– Interview with America: The National Catholic Review, 2013
No wonder right-wingers were unhappy. The complaining started will before Pope Francis even set foot on American soil.
Wingnuts whined even louder after Pope Francis arrived. There was plenty to upset them.
Upon arriving at the White House, the Pope gave a brief address in which praised President Obama for his climate change initiatives: “Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our ‘common home’, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about ‘a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change’ (Laudato Si’, 13).”
Five-year-old Sofia Cruz of California, got a papal welcome when she crossed the police barricade at the parade for the Pope in Washington, DC. Spotting her, Pope Francis gestured for Sofia to come forward. Secret Service officers handed Sofia over to the Pope, where she received a hug and a blessing. Pope Francis also accepted a gift from little Sofia: a bright yellow t-shirt that read in Spanish, “Pope: Rescue DAPA so the legalization would be with your blessing.” DAPA is the Deferred Action For Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, President Barack Obama’s executive action to extend deportation protections to the parents of the approximately 5 million U.S. citizens and some permanent residents.
If that wasn’t enough, Pope Francis followed his White House speech with a historic address to a joint session of Congress. In a speech that went on for nearly an hour, Pope Francis:
Echoed #BlackLivesMatter, making his thoughts on the fight for racial equality clear when he invoked two civil rights champions — Thomas Merton and Martin Luther King, Jr. — and spoke of the need to “defend and preserve the dignity” of all, especially those “in situations of greater vulnerability or risk,” and of building “a culture which enables people to dream of full rights for all their brothers and sisters.” He added that, “just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.”
Vindicated the immigrant rights movement, and did Sofia Cruz proud: “In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent are now fearful of foreigners because most of us… because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descendants from immigrants.”