There was no separation of church and state on the South Lawn this morning. The leader of the free world and the Bishop of Rome shared the same stage during Pope Francis’ papal tour of America and echoed support for many of the same issues.
President Barack Obama spoke first, lauding the Holy Father for “shaking our conscience from slumber.” And when the president finished and the Pope moved to the podium, the audience erupted.
Welcome to the White House, @Pontifex! Your messages of love, hope, and peace have inspired us all.
President Obama (@POTUS) September 23, 2015
Francis did not speak in Spanish. In an ecumenical effort, he addressed the nation in pained English, telling the crowd that he hoped “to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.”
Prepared to speak inspired truth to princely power, the Vicar of Christ unpacked his schedule, casually mentioning his plans to attend the World Meeting of Families later in Philadelphia, “to celebrate and support the institution of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.”
Before trumpeting his support for religious liberty, the Pope tempered his praise for “one of America’s most precious possessions” with vague platitudes about tolerance and inclusiveness.
Pope Francis explained the character of his American Church to the president. “Mr. President…American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination.”
Then leaping from Peter’s Rock, leaving behind Papal infallibility, the Holy Father launched into a discussion of America’s responsibility on the issue of climate change. He praised the president for his clean air initiative and scolded America, that “climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to future generations.”
Then with a holier and more authoritative than usual “God Bless America,” the Pope was off to the next stop.
Tomorrow, he will address a historic joint meeting of Congress at a moment when the nation’s capitol seems more divided than ever.
Valerie Jarrett (@vj44) September 23, 2015
Considered “the ultimate Washington outsider,” Pope Francis speaks with an authority that eclipses that of other heads of state. With his words on immigration, family, and climate change, Francis will certainly impact the current political landscape.
One issue not in the Pope’s stump speech is currently sparking the biggest fight in Washington though. The Holy Father offered no words on the systematic slaughter of innocents and the wholesale harvesting of baby organs.
And so it seems the Holy Father is content to allow the national conscience to return to its slumber after a few days of papal fan fare.
Philip Wegmann is a Staff Writer and the Radio Producer for The Federalist. Follow him on Twitter.