What The Pope Forgot To Tell Congress
Credit: cnn.com
September 25, 2015

Charlie Pierce (who of course was taught by the Jesuits) with his take on the Pope's address to Congress:

The Pope was far more direct, and far more detailed, in his condemnation of the arms trade, in his extended discussion about the environmental crisis, and in his lengthy and passionate disquisition about our obligation to what the Gospels call the least among us. (Even here, he wrongfooted them. Out along the aisle, Paul Ryan bobbed his head when the Pope talked about "subsidiarity," which is a Catholic doctrine that Ryan doesn't understand any more than he understands theoretical physics, but that he uses as a theological basis for his zombie-eyed granny-starving. However, the Pope actually talked about "reciprocal subsidiarity," which is a whole 'nother thing. Again, and we told you this before, Paul, don't fck with the Society.) Alas for his audience, the pope lost his place early on and omitted the most powerful section of his prepared text.

Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" (Declaration of Independence, 4 July 1776). If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance.

The Vatican press office hustled to tell the assembled media that the passage had been left out by accident – I give Papa Francesco credit for doing as well as he did, since English is about his fourth language – and that the pope stands by it. I tend to believe the papal flacks because the idea of poverty as a new kind of slavery popped up several times in the address, and Papa Francesco made sure to link it not only to what Dr. King once called the original "promissory note" in the Declaration of Independence, but also to the struggle to end actual slavery under Lincoln, and the struggle to end the de facto slavery of Jim Crow under Dr. King.

There wasn't an accidental syllable in the whole speech. And, for one morning, the spirit of Dorothy Day walked the halls of the United States Capitol. I'd be a liar if I said I didn't feel that was a blessing.​

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