Pope Francis will challenge those on the Hill but not take sides
Pope Francis will be visiting the city at the heart of American politics next week, but he is more likely to discuss the importance of leadership and how it can help the masses of people than to take positions on specific issues.
During his visit, he’ll go to the White House, address a joint session of Congress, ride in the Popemobile in a parade and stop at local churches and charities. He then heads to New York City and Philadelphia.
Sister Carol Keehan, CEO of the Catholic Health Association who has met the current pope twice, said he will probably offer plenty of constructive criticism to lawmakers and other leaders.
“He’s challenged people almost like we’ve never been challenged before,” she said.
Keehan said she hopes Francis talks about universal health insurance, income inequality and a fair criminal justice system while in the capital.
She predicts he will discuss climate change and the importance of embracing scientific fact, even if it is uncomfortable. Francis issued a 184page encyclical in June that said climate change is a real problem caused by human activity, and that it’s a moral issue.
Abortion is likely to come up, but Keehan said she doesn’t think the pope will endorse any specific legislation. He will probably talk about the value of life at all stages, including the impact of education and economic opportunity.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s promise to debate just before the pope’s arrival a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks is unlikely to come up in the Pope’s remarks, she said.
“I don’t think he’ll pick sides,” she said.