In the most nakedly political encounter between a Pope and a President I have ever seen, Pope Francis used his first meeting with President Obama to smack the most powerful man in the world’s knuckles on the urgent unfolding religious liberty crisis in the U.S. And then the Holy Father gently caressed his other cheek by praising President Obama on climate change.
The smackdown first:
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.
Coming just a few weeks after Kim Davis was released from jail, this shout out should rally many Christians to take the threats at least as seriously as the Pope does, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, too.
On climate change the Pope praised Obama, saying:
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).
Not yet a word about making money selling body parts of the unborn, but there is still time.
Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at American Principles in Action.