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White House Prepares For Pomp, Politics Of Pope Francis Visit

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White House Prepares For Pomp, Politics Of Pope Francis Visit


By Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) — When Pope Francis arrives in Washington next week, the White House hopes he will bring attention to the need to curb climate change and fight inequality — areas of common ground for the popular pontiff and President Barack Obama.

But after months of work on the agenda for their meeting, White House officials said on Thursday that they expect Pope Francis may also address issues such as gay marriage or government funding for abortion — policies on which the Catholic Church and White House fundamentally disagree.

“This pope is a very independent figure and we know from his previous travels that we don’t know what he’s going to say until he says it,” said Charlie Kupchan, senior director for European affairs at the White House National Security Council.

Obama and Pope Francis share concerns on “big ticket items” like climate and poverty, said Kupchan, who told reporters that the White House has worked on new “initiatives” to roll out during the visit.

“We are hoping that his moral authority helps us advance many of the items that we take to be high on our policy agenda,” he said.

Obama and Pope Francis met last March at the Vatican, where they spoke for about an hour.

The pontiff played a key role in helping the Obama administration end a 50-year detente between the United States and Cuba, the island nation where the pope will visit en route to the United States.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will greet Pope Francis when he lands at a U.S. military base just outside the city on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, more than 14,000 invited guests from around the country will gather on the South Lawn of the White House for a welcome ceremony, before Obama and the pope meet in the Oval office one-on-one.

The next day, the pope will address a joint meeting of the Senate and House of Representatives. Lawmakers eager to have television cameras capture their encounter with the pontiff have been warned against trying to grab a handshake as he makes his way in.

Pope Francis arrives in Washington as the race heats up to replace Obama in the November 2016 presidential election.

Vice President Biden, who is considering whether to compete for the Democratic nomination, will attend many of the pope’s events, and will lead a farewell ceremony in Philadelphia on Sept. 27, the White House said.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Photo: The U.S. flag flies in front of a mural of Pope Francis on the side of a building in midtown Manhattan in New York August 28, 2015. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid



  1. Eleanore Whitaker September 18, 2015

    As the head of a church with over 1.2 billion practicing Catholics, it will be interesting to note the reaction from the right wing, Christian fundamentalists and the Republicans.

    The Pope is the one person on Planet Earth, these thugs can’t silence, brainwash or commandeer. They will no doubt here that which they will wish they hadn’t.

    Warring with the Catholic Pope is never a good strategy. This is going to be very interesting watching the so-called rabid Christians try to worm their way around the purity of truth.

    No doubt, they’ll begin by trying to politicize the Pope. Sorry, that won’t work. He belongs only to the depth of his faith.

    1. pisces63 September 21, 2015

      Unless you’ve heard by now. They have thrown down the gauntlet and it is not in favor of the pontiff. Now, he is interfering. Now, he is to radical. It gets to be really funny if not pretentious and pathetic.

      1. Eleanore Whitaker September 21, 2015

        If you take a general concensus of who is out there mouthing off, you see it’s the same white, middle aged males. Here’s why I say this. Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015…the morning political shows. Nearly every one was overloaded with pretentious, upper class white males somewhere between the ages of 35 and 55. Everyone was hot to put the Pope into some bizarre political compartment.

        You can guess why. These are the guys who come from upper class families who could afford healthcare, college and the McMansions ALL their lives. These are men who know their Daddies taught them, by example how to lie, rip off others and basically never take accountability for their actions. What’s bred in the bone, will not out, as Shakespeare once wrote.

        So as I breezed past TV station after station, all with the same white bread, $500 suited, Kardashian silk ties, I realize that things haven’t changed much since the days I worked for corporate CEOs. These are the same little Johnny Jump Ups who jump at the mere sound of the CEOs voice.

  2. pisces63 September 18, 2015

    As a Missionary Baptist black woman of 66 years. I do not get nor will I ever get the hype except for his followers. I will not watch. Listen. You name it. I do not care and I most
    assuredly am not impressed.

    1. Independent1 September 19, 2015

      I too disagree with a lot of what the Catholic church believes in; but as Eleanor pointed out in this blog, there are 1.2 billion Catholics around the world and therefore the Pope does get a lot of attention from the media. So given his latest pronouncements, like the White House, I’m hoping that the Pope can expose to millions more Americans, just how corrupt the Republican party has become.

      And in the coming week he may be saying a lot of things that that you may agree with and hope that helps change our political landscape even just a little. Here’s the link that summarizes some of those things the Pope may be addressing that you may want to at least keep tabs on:

      From MarketWatch.Com:

      Opinion: Pope Francis’s ‘attendance’ at GOP debate is going to help sink the party

      A little excerpt from the article:

      Pope Francis warns, WWIII is already here, join his mass revolution

      We know this activist pope just won’t stop — he keeps ramping up his attack, hammering away at capitalism’s war against the poor and the environment: “In this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.”

      Get it? In Pope Francis’ world view, WWIII has already begun, is raging, here, now, today. So no surprise that his relentless anticapitalism attacks are driving conservative critics crazy. A RawStory.com headline captured the voice of the party: “Rush Limbaugh goes bonkers because Pope Francis called out-of-control capitalism the dung of the devil.” Yes, the pope said that capitalism is the “dung of the devil.”

      It’s so easy to imagine what he’ll say live to 300 GOP members of Congress next month when he appears before a join session of Congress. Pope Francis’s blunt delivery reminds us of a construction worker operating a loud jackhammer, hell-bent on dismantling the massive concrete edifice of American capitalism with deep, biting attacks like: “Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the ‘culture of waste.’ If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal.” Warning, he’s now their champion inciting the rebellion.

      And here’s his latest 10 Commandments:

      1. Capitalists … are new worshipers of the biblical golden calf

      Pope: “Money must serve, not rule, yet we calmly accept its control over us. Money originated in a profound human crisis, the denial of the primacy of the human person. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money.”

      2. Invisible hand of God … replaced by greedy hands of capitalism

      Pope: “Never trust in the so-called ‘invisible hand’ of the markets and economic remedies like cutting workers to increase their profits. The world needs a better distribution of income.”

      3. New Tyranny … capitalists are destroying democracy worldwide

      Pope: “Ideologies increase the wealth of a minority exponentially, increasing the inequality gap, separating the most humans from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. A new tyranny is thus born, unilaterally and relentlessly imposing its own laws and rules.”

      4. Trickle-down economics … is a total capitalist disaster

      Pope: “Free market trickle-down economics causes injustice. A naïve trust in the culture of prosperity and those wielding economic power deadens society.”

      5. Inequality … is the root cause of all ‘social ills’ in the world

      Pope: “Inequality is the root of social ills. Help the poor, reject markets and speculation, attack the structural causes of inequality, or you will never solve the world’s problems.”

      6. Consumerism … is out-of-control, destroying family/social values

      Pope: “Today’s economics promotes inordinate consumption, increases inequality, damages the social fabric, increases violence and serious conflicts. Blaming the poor and poorer countries for their troubles is misplaced, solve the corruption spreading at the top.”

      7. Competition … capitalist addiction to profits is killing morality

      Pope: “The laws of capitalist competition, the survival of the fittest rule. The powerful feed upon the powerless, the vast majority are marginalized: No work, No opportunities. No escape. News is a two-point loss in stocks, but not the death of elderly homeless?”

      8. Conservatism … encourages free destruction of natural resources

      Pope: “In a world where everyone has their own subjective truth, citizens cannot develop common solutions that transcend personal ambitions. We need a new way of living and thinking that’s more humane and noble, that brings dignity to all humans on this earth.”

      9. Exploitation … treating humans as mere economic commodities is sin

      Pope: “Yes, humans are now consumer goods, used then discarded in our widespread throwaway culture. It is no longer about oppression and exploitation. Today, the excluded ones are no longer society’s underside, no longer even a part of it, but outcasts, leftovers.”

      10. Capitalism has lost its moral compass, turned its back on God

      Pope: “Behind capitalist economics lurks a rejection of ethics and God that debases humans. This lack of morality and ethics results in God calling for solutions outside marketplace economics, to make it possible for a more balanced and humane social order.”

      1. 1standlastword September 19, 2015

        Nice! But if the Holy Father comes to the US political power apparatus with this message like the historic Jesus whose last act before being crucified was to turn over the tables of the money changers, Francis too WILL be symbolically crucified!

        We’ll see.

        Those republican EFFERS posing as public servants are rotten to the core and hopelessly addicted to greed like the mythological Satan there is not enough spirit under the Sun to turn their essence from their evil!

      2. pisces63 September 21, 2015

        Sorry to mislead, it has nothing to do with Catholics or the pope, per se. I just get irritated when it seems we all are going ga ga over him. I am not. That would only happen if it were Jesus. Moses. Abraham. The old Testament is my Rock. Don’t get me wrong I love the beatitudes. Nativity. Have my druthers about Revelations, since John was on a deserted Island when he supposedly wrote it. Really. I wear the Star of David. Not a cross.
        I celebrate Jesus’ life not his death. I am thankful for it. Yet, too
        many people have accused Jews of murdering him. They are supposed to be Christian but forget John 3:16. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son…. GAVE in love. Yet too many accept with a lie in
        hatred, throwing God’s love in his face. Even Christ asked his father to take this cup from him in the Garden of Gethsemane. He did it for us in love and many accept it with a proviso of hatred.

        1. Independent1 September 21, 2015

          So you’re really into the Old Testament?? Even though it’s clear from the New Testament that to be found worthy at the end of life by Jesus, we should be living by the commandments THAT HE GAVE US as recorded in Matthew 5-7 and in many of his parables not what it says in the Old Testament? And even though God through the writer of Hebrews, makes it clear in Chapter 8 versuses 7-13, that Jesus in bringing us the New Testament made the Old Testament obsolete (and even God knew there was something wrong with it) and that the Old Testament should have soon faded away 2000 years ago??. And even though Paul made it clear in several of his letters that following ‘The Law’, the 10 commandments and much of what the Jews follow will get no one to Heaven?? Interesting.

          1. pisces63 September 21, 2015

            Yes!! Why! God gave me free thought and will. I have taught the Bible after learning it cover to cover in Sunday School. My favorite part of the week. I just thrilled in it. I just prefer the old testament. It has nothing to do with the new at all. That’s like saying you marry, have children and you cut yourself off from your parents and siblings. Why not both. Lets get out of the book. Look at movies. I love them. My favorites are The Ten Commandments, Why? Faith in God is universal. Through
            their travails, Hebrews kept that faith in God and a deliverer. He had no name at that time. He told Moses on the mount, when asked, I am, call me I am. That faith, as a black woman, in what was once our Egypt, validates me. Ben Hur. THIS is my movie of movies. Why? How faith turned to hatred back to faith in one movie. Faith, friendship, betrayal of that friendship in the most heinous of ways, anger, enslavement, compassion and water given to him by a stranger, that the Roman cannot look in
            the eye, compassion for his enslaver, saves his life and who turns around and adopts him as his son, making him a Roman citizens. That would NEVER, EVER, EVER have happened in
            America. Not even their own children by blood on their slaves. He still has the anger, hatred against Masala, his childhood friend. His mother and sister are lepers and sent to a leper colony to live and die. He takes them to hear the young Rabbi speak but he is now carrying a cross to be crucified. Judah tries to give him water and realizes that he is the same man who gave him water when he prayed to God to help him. He did by the hand of his son. His crucifixion and because of his last act
            of kindness to this wonderful man, the curing of his mother and sister. He told them he said, forgive them father for they know not what they do. Even then said his lady. Even then, said
            Judah. He felt the hatred and anger run out of his body. No not
            old testament but before the new was written. Faith without rancor which too many Christians practice. The funny part of both? Moses married a daughter of a sheik. Judah befriended an arab(children of Ishmael) and rode those glorious Arabian steeds in the chariot race.

          2. pisces63 September 21, 2015

            It’s Monday and my brain is still on weekend mode.
            I am not one who believes that. Do they really believe they will get to heaven preaching hate, intolerance and saying I am a Christian and believe in Christ? Yet, an atheist, Jew or Muslim, Buddhist,
            etc., does all that is right for their fellow man and lives a good life, will not? I think they have a surprise coming. I would love to see how much closer to Dante’s inferno those who murdered in His name are than to heaven.

    2. Phil Johnson September 20, 2015

      Therefore, as a fervent Christian follower, you might be interested in this comment from Liberty University, the site of all things Biblical:

      “An Evangelical pastoral counselor and Liberty University graduate
      posted a short sermon about Bernie Sanders’ speech at Liberty University
      to reddit yesterday:

      Bernie is the voice of Justice crying out in the desert. Evangelicals like me are convicted by his message. (audio, a little under 17 minutes)

      reddit thread

      Partial transcript below the squiggle.

      He was convicting the Christian leaders and the religious
      leaders in that university, and calling us out for being complicit in
      the abandonment of those who suffer, the least of these, and siding with
      the powerful and rich, the masters of this world. And he was
      convicting us and calling us out, and we scorned him, and we stared him
      down; and, with sour faces, we thought, “Who is this wacko, and why do
      all these people seem to follow him, seem to like him – this wild-haired
      Jew, crying out from the wilderness of the political left, in his
      hoarse voice?”

      When I heard Bernie speaking in that way, when I saw that
      guy on stage at Liberty University, I saw John the Baptist…crying out
      to the religious leaders, the Pharisees of his day, calling them corrupt
      and complicit with those who have all the power and all the money and
      all the wealth, and abandoning the people that God loves, that God cares

      As I heard Bernie Sanders crying out to the religious
      leaders at Liberty University, in his hoarse voice, with his wild hair –
      this Jew – and he proclaimed justice over us, he called us to account,
      for being complicit with those who are wealthy and those who are
      powerful, and for abandoning the poor, the least of these, who Jesus
      said he had come to bring good news to. And in that moment something
      occurred to me. As I saw Bernie Sanders up there, as I watched him, I
      realized Bernie Sanders for president is good news for the poor. Bernie
      Sanders for president is Good News for the poor. Bernie Sanders is
      gospel for the poor. And Jesus said “I have come to bring gospel” – good
      news – “to the poor.”

      And lightning hit my heart at that moment. And I realized that we are
      evangelical Christians. We believe the Bible. We believe in Jesus. We
      absolutely shun those who would attempt to find nuance and twisted and
      tortured interpretations of scripture that they would use to master all
      other broader interpretations, to find some kind of big message that
      they want to flout. We absolutely scorn such things, and yet somehow we
      commit to the mental gymnastics necessary that allows us to abandon the
      least of these, to abandon the poor, to abandon the immigrants, to
      abandon those who are in prison.

      I listened to Bernie Sanders as he said he wanted to welcome the
      immigrants and give them dignity, as he said he wanted to care for the
      sick children and mothers and fathers who do not have health care, as he
      said he wanted to decrease the amount of human beings who are corralled
      like cattle in the prisons, as he said he wanted to do justice for
      those who have nothing and live homeless. And I remembered the words of
      Jesus who warned his disciples that there will be judgement, and on that
      day he will look to his friends, and he will say “Blessed are you for
      you cared for me, for I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you
      cared for me, I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave
      me something to drink, I was in prison and you came to visit me, I was
      homeless and you gave me shelter.” And his disciples said, “When did we
      do any of those things for you?” And he said, “If you have done it for
      the least of these, you have done it for me.”

      Those words echoed in my heart as I listened to that crazy,
      hoarse-voiced, wild-haired Jew standing in front of the religous leaders
      of the Evangelical Movement, calling us to account, as a Jew once did
      before, telling us that he intends to care for the least of these, to
      clothe the naked, to shelter the homeless, to care for the sick, to set
      the prisoners free.

      I wouldn’t be much of a Christian if I didn’t stand on the
      side of gospel for the poor, because, the last time I checked, that’s
      where my master Jesus stood, and I’ll stand with Him. And, for now,
      that means I stand with Bernie Sanders.”
      I’m leaving out a lot here. I’d really recommend listening to the whole thing.

      (Update: reddit user How_Suspicious has posted a complete transcript on the SanderForPresident subreddit.)


      aures lupi

      1. pisces63 September 21, 2015

        Thank you for a wonderful ‘sermon’ on this Monday morning at work. As a Missionary Baptist, we can get emotional upon hearing ‘the word’. This has moved me and I will watch this. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. I have been a Hilary candidate but there are too many thing about this man I love. I am truly learning about him and liking it all. It’s what I call vetting. Thank you, again. Bless you.

  3. 1standlastword September 18, 2015

    Can the US Congress have the Pope crucified for upsetting the marketplace?


    Can the Holy Father provide enough holy water to exorcise the demons out of the US Congress?

    Stay tuned!

    1. Independent1 September 19, 2015

      Let’s at least hope he can change our political landscape a little. See my post to pisces63 in this blog thread for some of what the Pope has said recently. And let’s at least hope he can make millions more Americans aware of how they’re utterly being used today, just like sheep being led to the slaughter, by especially the GOP.


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