Professor Leslie C. Griffin, Pope Francis is NOT a Liberal, Hamilton and Griffin On Rights

A mistaken political narrative in Washington, D.C. pits liberal Democratic Catholics (who are happy that liberal Pope Francis is on their side about climate change and poverty) against conservative Republicans (who, missing his predecessors, are nonetheless glad Francis has not changed any church dogma on their issues, abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage) and has both sides hoping that the pope will provide political ammunition for their side while he visits the United States.

This narrative completely hides the point that Pope Francis is NOT a liberal.

Liberals gave us the Enlightenment, which emphasized liberty, equality and human rights. In Europe, liberals took religion OUT of government because they realized only a secular state could protect everyone’s rights. Their liberalism eventually culminated in the ideas of the U.S. Constitution.

Pope Francis’s predecessors in the Vatican condemned the Enlightenment, rejecting separation of church and other liberal reforms in the provocatively named “Syllabus of Errors.”

Pope Francis pretended to be a liberal this morning in his remarks at the White House, telling the president:

Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, 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.

This is untrue. The church’s leadership hasn’t been committing to safeguarding the rights of children, women and LGBTs, who constitute most of the U.S. population.

While speaking to the American bishops, the pope astonishingly praised the “courage” and “generosity” of the Catholic bishops who covered up the abuse of countless children throughout the country and repeatedly argued that the courts have no jurisdiction over survivors’ attempts at justice.

Lawless child abuse is not liberal.

The pope also urged the bishops to take care of the “innocent victim of abortion,” with no mention of women, mothers, or justified abortions. Catholic doctrine forbids abortion even when the life of the mother is at stake or in cases of rape or incest.

Abortion bans are not liberal.

This week a radio caller asked how American politicians would behave if the leader of a church that banned ordination on the basis of race visited Washington.

Think about it. A pope who leads a church that prohibits women in leadership is not liberal.

We wait to see if the pope will say anything about contraception and same-sex marriage during his trip.

Bans on contraception and same-sex marriage are not liberal.

Either is the pope.

Or any politician who does what the pope wants.

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