|According to some really right wing outlets, these two are smiling over their plan to turn the entire globe into one big Marxist colony through wealth redistribution. Notice the red book?
President Obama met with Pope Francis yesterday at the Vatican. The Vatican still stands. The Earth still orbits the sun. The political scene has not dramatically changed. Most everything is exactly as it was before these two men exchanged gifts and shook hands....including the spin on what really happened. If you get your information from media outlets that tend to the right, PF dressed down PO over ACA, birth control and abortion, gay marriage, and trampling on the religious freedom of the USCCB and Hobby Lobby to control the sex lives of American women. If you get your information from the other side of the media equation, the culture war issues were an after thought compared to Syria, Lebanon, the Sudan, Palestine, other global hot spots, pervasive income inequality, and the human trafficking and slave trade.
When I look at the issues that Pope Francis has stressed since his election just over one year ago, it's hard for me to believe he would concentrate on the ability of American corporations to exercise their supposed religious rights, when it is US based international corporations who are the prime movers in global income inequality. It's hard to believe PF would concentrate on gay marriage laws in the US when conversing with the man who is in charge of the world's biggest military industrial complex. I have a feeling that's why the one gift Pope Francis gave to President Obama that is not mentioned by the US press is a medallion of the Angel of Peace. There's a message here that the parochial culture war concerns of the USCCB are not the primary concerns of global leaders--religious or secular. I suspect this is a message the Cardinal Burke's of the USCCB are not going to hear.
The real business was most likely exchanged between Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin and the less mentioned members of President Obama's team, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. I would imagine the religious freedom measures discussed here had less to do with Hobby Lobby and more to do with Iraq, Syria, and other nations in which the numbers of Christians who are experiencing martyrdom is a real religious liberty issue unlike the politically contrived issues in the US. I have no doubt the US issues were brought up if only because US conservatives represent a large chunk of Vatican donations. US bishops, unlike their Northern European counterparts who enjoy tax subsidies, are beholden to their major financial donors and those tend to be affiliated with the one percent, meaning the USCCB's agenda too often appears for sale to the highest bidder. Pope Francis certainly has larger global concerns and recognizes that President Obama does as well. No matter how right wing news outlets wants to spin things, US politics took a back seat to these larger global concerns, and that is as it should be.
While I certainly think yesterday was about more than a photo op, I do not think it was earth shaking either. It may be that the president and the pope exchanged phone numbers as well as gifts and that isn't a bad thing. Pope Francis has experience in global areas that President Obama does not, and vice versa. An open information exchange between these two men is a good thing. It's a much better thing in fact, the locking horns over birth control and gay marriage. It sets a needed example of dialogue over confrontation and that's something both men have said they firmly believe in. PO, in his remarks afterward mentioned one thing that I have written repeatedly. The issue of wealth distribution is becoming a serious national security threat. Pope Francis would certainly agree with this given his experience in Argentina. For this alone I am glad the two met. It is here that these two men have much to share....even if some folks think that sharing will lead to global Marxism.