Wednesday, May 27, 2015
The pope's pronouncements on the environment and the poor are not sitting well with Republican Catholics. Once upon a time -- a few hundred years ago -- this might have put the pontiff in a political bind, but no longer. Popes today have the ability to speak their minds concerning moral issues. The present Holy Father has been more vocal than his predecessor to the delight of many and anger of others. Normally, one would say that it is risky PR to take an unpopular stance, but for religious leaders it needn't be. They can, if they wish, rise above daily dealings and concentrate on long-term implications of the way the public thinks and acts. In fact, religious figures who have descended into politics have done themselves and their followers a disservice. There is no doubt that they possess secular power through their preaching that shows in the ballot box, but they have often been on the wrong side of the facts. This Pope thus far has avoided politics. He has called upon all secular leaders to pay attention to the migrant situation in Europe, and he is about to make a major pronouncement on the environment and the need for human stewardship of it. There are those who are already dismissive of his ideas, but he is hard to ignore.