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The Holy Father and US Politics PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Fones   
Friday, 22 February 2008 13:32
John Allen has an interesting little reflection on what Pope Benedict may say in the U.S. that could have an effect on the elections coming up in November. Will he say anything to indicate he favors one candidate over another, or one party over another?

Allen points out that if Pope Benedict XVI talks about the right to life, that that would favor John McCain, should he receive the Republican nomination, whereas if he speaks about ending the U.S. involvement in Iraq, that would favor whatever Democratic candidate emerges. Most likely, he'll discuss both. It's no secret that the Vatican sees both parties as significantly flawed, Mr. Allen points out.

He concludes his comments with what I hope more Catholics take to heart. That if we want our society to change, that change will be much more likely to happen if we Catholics begin living our faith and become leaven in our places of work, our schools, our parishes, and in our political parties.

In light of these considerations, I suspect the political subtext of Benedict’s April trip is unlikely to have much to do with the dynamics of the ’08 elections, since the Holy See, in tandem with many American Catholics, regards both parties as flawed. Instead, I suspect Benedict is likely to try an “end-run” around partisan politics, and talk instead about the formation of a Catholic culture in the United States capable of acting as a “leaven” within the existing formations, trying to transform them from the inside out.

That’s a more ambitious, and long-term, aim than sending signals about McCain, Obama or Hillary, but it’s likely to be Benedict’s message. What the pundits and spin-doctors do with it, of course, is another question.


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