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Pope Francis Goes To Washington

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Pope Francis Goes To Washington


He is the only man in the world with this job title, but from the moment Pope Francis was hired, he eschewed the fancy trappings of his predecessors to avoid the isolation of privilege. So there he was Wednesday, pulling up to President Barack Obama’s rental house on Pennsylvania Avenue in a boxy little Fiat.

After the pope’s brief speech on the White House lawn, he switched cars and headed for the parade, where he waved to thousands of admirers from his popemobile, a modified Jeep Wrangler made by union workers in Toledo, Ohio.

Surrounded by emergency vehicles and swarmed by security, Pope Francis nonetheless managed to persuade grim-faced Secret Service agents to fetch babies from the crowd so that he could kiss them. My favorite moment during live coverage came when agents tried to shoo away 5-year-old Sophie Cruz. The little girl in pigtails made eye contact with Pope Francis, and he waved for her to come to him. An agent lifted her so that the pope could kiss and embrace her.

News organizations later reported that Sophie had traveled from Los Angeles with her parents and a group that advocates for American-born children of immigrants. I confess I read that and thought, “Nice work, God.”

Pope Francis is only 5 feet 9 inches tall, but he is a towering figure this week in a country — in our country — full of people yearning for signs of greatness in those who think they’re entitled to center stage. Millions of Americans, most Catholic but surely not all of them, are hanging on his every word.

And why not?

I’m not Catholic, and I am mindful of those who continue to suffer because of the Roman Catholic Church’s failings. But there is something about this pope. His respectful ease with our president and his words of gentle optimism invited immediate contrasts with what some presidential candidates have been trying to pass off as leadership in recent weeks.

The difference is so stark.

Pope Francis: As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.

Donald Trump: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with (them). They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”

Ben Carson: “I would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.”

Pope Francis: 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 (that) 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.

Mike Huckabee: “I don’t pretend to know. Here’s what I do know: When I was in college, we were told that (the) climate was changing but we were about to go into a deep freeze and, if we didn’t make urgent changes in the way we live, we were all going to be Popsicles within another generation.”

Ted Cruz: “If you look at satellite data for the last 18 years, there’s been zero recorded warming. The satellite says it ain’t happening.”

Pope Francis: During my visit, I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles.

Ah, Congress — where Ted Cruz is threatening to shut down the government. And his classmate Marco Rubio now claims that women get abortions just to drive profits from fetal tissue sales he knows do not exist. Handoff to Jeb Bush, who said, “I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” End this round with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who’s made a second career of ridiculing teachers. “If I were, not president, but if I were king in America, I would abolish all teachers’ lounges, where they sit together and worry about ‘woe is us.'”

These men want to be our next president.

On Wednesday, thousands lined the street to welcome Pope Francis to Washington.

Small wonder why.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. She is the author of two books, including …and His Lovely Wife, which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz (con.schultz@yahoo.com) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

Photo: Pope Francis is applauded inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington on September 23, 2015. REUTERS/Patrick Semansky/Pool

Connie Schultz

Connie Schultz is a nationally syndicated columnist for Creators Syndicated. Schultz won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. She has also published two books: Life Happens: And Other Unavoidable Truths -- a collection of her previously published columns -- and ...and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man, which chronicled her experiences on the campaign trail with her husband, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

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  1. obandon September 24, 2015

    I really hope John Boehners tears were because he listened to the Pope and realizes how his Congress will be known in history as the worst do nothing group in the entire history of the United States. He and his Tea Party loonies have completely become hypocrites and failed all. Everything they stand for could not be more opposite from the values this Pope holds high.

    1. TZToronto September 24, 2015

      It doesn’t take much brain power to realize that breathing clean air is better for you than breathing air filled with pollutants. And which satellite is it that Cruz is listening to? The last I heard, satellites don’t provide conclusions about anything. With their various types of cameras and imaging capabilities, they can provide data for analysis, but the satellite [sic] itself doesn’t tell us anything. And The Huckster went to Ouachita Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Do they even have classes in anything related to climate? Who told him that the world was going into a deep freeze? These days, according to the Ouachita website their “natural” science school has programs in Biology (what do they teach?), Chemistry, Math & Computer Sciences, and Physics. (How Computer Sciences fits into natural sciences I can’t determine.) Something tells me that Mike didn’t hear about the deep freeze from an expert in the field of climatology.

  2. Lake girl September 24, 2015

    I noticed that the Pope did NOT mention the pre-born. He said “life at every stage”. The Bible clearly states that life begins when it breathes; therefore, according to the Bible, the first stage is when it breathes. Adam was not human until he breathe the breath of life. Read the chapter just after the 10 Commandments at :Exodus 21:22-23. God says when two men are fighting and a woman loses the fruit of her womb, then the men pay her husband (property damage). However, if the woman dies, then it is a life for a life, and the men die.


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