The pope has accepted the U.S. Congress’ cordial invitation to speak to the legislature on Sept. 24.
Many of the politicians Pope Francis will address — particularly the Republicans — claim to be devout Christians. They’ve gone as far as to formulate their positions on certain political issues based on how they think God would respond to them.
However, these same members of Congress will most likely disagree with what the Pope will say during his address. The Republican platform has been increasingly at odds with that of the man who is technically supposed to be the official translator of the word of God.
For starters, many Republicans argue that being gay is a negative lifestyle choice, like “drinking” or “swearing,” as former Arkansas Governor and Republican presidential nominee Mike Huckabee so compared it to. Pope Francis, on the other hand, famously said in 2013, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?”
To be clear, the Pope does not endorse same-sex marriage, but he is not nearly as hostile toward the idea of homosexuality as some Republicans — former Republican Senator and presidential hopeful Rick Santorum, a Roman Catholic, once compared homosexuality to bestiality, for instance.
On the issues of climate change, Pope Francis’ stances differ much more dramatically from Republicans’. He has urged the world to do more to combat climate change to protect the Earth that “has been given to us.” Meanwhile, 43 percent of Republican and Republican-leaning U.S. adults believe there is “no solid evidence” that the Earth is getting warmer, according to Pew Research Center.
Pope Francis has been extremely outspoken on the phenomenon of economic inequality as well. On the argument for free market capitalism, Pope Francis wrote in a papal position, “[The] opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”
The “opinion” he is attacking is one that virtually all Republicans hold — that the private sector of the economy is a self-regulating and beneficial force.
This inconsistent relationship between the platforms of Republican representatives and the Pope himself should be cause for alarm for Americans who vote Republican based on their spirituality.
Yes, the Pope is technically the leader of the Catholic Church and not necessarily of all Christians, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t representative of general Christian interest. After all, Francis garnered a 74 percent favorability rating amongst white mainline Protestants this past year, according to Pew Research Center.
The majority of all Protestants still identify as Republican, and a large chunk of Catholics, 49 percent, do as well. This contradicts their support for a Pope who is on the opposite side of the ideological spectrum.
Clearly, the Republican platform is not nearly as “Christian” as some of its representatives will have you believe. It lacks the institutional, Biblical and moral grounding that the Pope has, making it not nearly as legitimate.
This will be made clear during Pope Francis’ address on Sept. 24. Though it probably won’t change the convictions of Republican members of Congress, hopefully it will convince Christian voters to abandon a party that falsely represents them.