Let’s Invite the Pope

If Francis does not know the full U.S. story on abortion, he should

What’s wrong with the world? Chesterton famously asked this and also confessed that he himself was a major part of the problem.

In light of his meeting with President Biden, I ask myself what’s wrong with Pope Francis? I’ve asked that question before with regard to his muddled treatment of the indissolubility of marriage and his confused statement on God’s will with regard to Islam.

But when I ask that question, my first thought is how much is right with Francis. He eloquently advocates for the poor; he understands the threat of climate change; he insists that the possession of nuclear weapons is wrong; he brings the voices of the universal church into the College of Cardinals.

And yet my second thought is that some popes have been, truth be told, lousy. Even St. Peter got off to a notoriously bad start. Dante puts Popes Nicholas III,  Boniface VIII, and even Celestine V in hell. The times were evil in the Florence of the day.

They were evil as well under the Borgia Pope, Alexander VI. They were more evil still in the days of Popes Formosus and Stephen VI (c. 890-900). Stephen had the cadaver of his predecessor Formosus tried and, in punishment, mutilated. In turn, Stephen was strangled in  prison.

If, per impossibile, Chesterton were a pope, he might have been a rather decent one if he could have gotten past his eurocentrism. If I were pope, however, I would be lousy. In matters ecclesiastical I am manifestly non aptus ad gobernandum.

History, if nothing else, gives us context. John Allen Jr., of Crux, argues that context exculpates Pope Francis in his “making nice” with President Biden: “The necessary context to the Pope/Biden meeting is that avoiding a clash on abortion isn’t just the Vatican’s ‘America policy,’ and it’s not directed at American Catholics. It’s the diplomatic playbook as applied to the US under a Democrat, whether Catholic or not. That playbook didn’t start with Francis and it won’t end with him, because it’s just how statecraft is practiced, whether in the Apostolic Palace or anywhere else” (Oct. 31).

After all, given the record of other world leaders on abortion, if the Pope were to tell Biden not to receive communion, Allen points out, he would have to do the same with “influential leaders of several Latin American nations, a few Asian ones, a couple of European states, and even one or two places in Africa.”

And yet Francis knows full well the evil of abortion. Perhaps he does not know that in the United States, since Roe v. Wade, the State has been complicit in more than 60 million lethal assaults on unborn babies and that President Biden has made peace with this devastation and is working to further legitimate this shameful slaughter. But if Francis does not know this, he should. The times are evil indeed.

Let’s continue to remind both the Pope and President of this context. And we all will surely have to answer for the grotesqueries of statecraft. For our part, let’s aspire to be prophets. Why not try to do so in fresh ways? Why not invite Pope Francis to visit a 40 Days for Life gathering. Once there, he could issue an invitation to President Biden to join him. It’s the sort of thing a good Catholic would do.

 

Jim Hanink is an independent scholar, albeit more independent than scholarly!

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