Pope Francis wouldn’t be pigeonholed. Not in Washington. Not in Congress. Not on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, the womb of America’s duopoly, where an untrusted and unloved leadership class divides itself into feckless Democrats and feckless Republicans—blues against reds.
No, this man worships a different hue. “Let us remember the Golden Rule,” said the first pontiff to address a joint session of Congress. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.
Republicans took that last line as an affirmation of the Catholic Church’s opposition to abortion—and applauded.
The pope continued: “This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty.”
And now, Democrats cheered.
Like most people, the Jesuit-trained spiritual leader doesn’t fit neatly into the ideological boxes constructed by the two major parties to divide Americans and preserve power. While the pope might lean left on immigration, climate change, and income inequality, he stands to the right of the muted American middle on abortion, same-sex marriage, and religious freedom.