Pope Francis to Address Joint Session of Congress

Historic first inside the beltway

by Daniel Smiechowski

Coming on the heels of unprecedented social change, including the legalization of Gay marriage in the United States, the Holy Pontiff has been invited to speak before the United States Congress next month in September. The sixty-four thousand dollar question is how will a speech by the leader of nearly one and a quarter billion Catholics affect America’s political landscape? More than forty percent of the faithful live in Latin America.

With the days of former Pope John Paul “The Great” behind the Iron Curtain and a mostly conservative Church now a memory, Pope Francis has turned to a new populism of the left including the mediating of Cuban rapprochement, immigration concerns, economic equality, making every effort to mitigate global warming, prisoner reform and intimating kindness and more openness to the LGBT community plus the issue of women’s rights. No doubt, what the Pope will say is closely guarded at the Vatican.

It’s interesting to note that what the Supreme Court’s decision on Roe vs. Wade in 1973 did for some Kennedy Democrats in defecting to the Republican Party, the recent High Court ruling on Gay marriage has conversely done for the Democrats. The worm turns and Pope Francis could unleash a tidal wave of public opinion in favor of the Democratic Party.

The old guard religious left has come home to roost. The likes of Father Groppi, Berrigan and Drinan, all Catholic priests who fought for civil rights and railed against the Vietnam War come to mind as Pope Francis has taken the Church back to its more liberal footing. Moral imperatives as global warming, immigration, and economic redistribution are in the queue to realign our two party system. Twenty-five years ago when I campaigned as a Democrat for County School Board, I was relegated to a second class citizen and run out of town on a rail by rogue feminists. Yet, within the big three life and death issues, the Catholic Church supports two being no on the death penalty and no on war. One may always oppose abortion on conscientious grounds except Democratic stereotypes persist.    My, how times have changed!

The Holy Pontiff indeed knows his onions or better said, knows his history as scores of Irish, Italian and Polish immigrants together with their descendants recall a time of prejudice, scapegoating and despair upon arrival at Ellis Island. The old French saying, “The more things change, the more things stay the same” ought to be Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. Be careful what you wish for, America’s Republican Party.

Be nice, do good deeds and don’t be a stranger as we at the Clairemont Times value your participation.

Daniel J Smiechowski has been a resident of Clairemont since 1967 and can be reached at smiechowskid@aol.com or 858 220 4613

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