The popularity of Pope Francis is well-deserved as he has finally brought the Catholic Christian faith out of the middle ages. His concern for the well-being of the poor indicates his use of papal authority to positively affect the world. Similarly, his belief that the gay community should not suffer abuses reveals that he would rather promote compassion as opposed to judgement. These, among many other actions taken by the Bishop of Rome, have made him a celebrity of sorts in the political and religious worlds. Unfortunately, the Pope is using his status to venture into the political realm. While this is not uncommon of individuals that have held his position, or other religious leaders, lines must be drawn.
The issue with the Pope’s position in society arises when he forsakes his obligations in order to advance a political agenda. The first example of this is the Pope’s acceptance of John Boehner’s invitation to address Congress in the United States. Given his position in society, addressing a government that has been unresponsive to its population due to political clashes (bipartisan politics in this case) is not an ideal setting for a major religious leader. Rather, it might be more fitting to spend his time in the United States in a manner that suits his position, such as detainees being held unfairly in Guantanamo Bay. Alternatively, the Pope has declined to meet with the Dalai Lama. The justification for this development is that it might hurt efforts to normalize relations with China. When the government of South Africa behaved similarly, Archbishop Desmond Tutu promptly condemned them. Given the position of the Pope as a beacon of morality and hope for the oppressed and marginalized, this action is both shocking and enlightening. It is enlightening as it reveals that, unfortunately, the importance of politics for an institution such as the Catholic Church may cause it to stray from its fundamental mission.