Jay Bookman

Opinion columnist and blogger with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, specializing in foreign relations, environmental and technology-related issues

Pope Francis has already performed a major miracle

In the Catholic tradition, a miracle is defined as a supernatural phenomenon. And even before his historic speech to Congress this morning, Pope Francis had accomplished what amounts to a major miracle.

I mean, how else can you describe it when Republicans and conservatives suddenly start warning against religious leaders whom they consider too "political," suggesting that church officials should confine their pronouncements to things that they understand?

This from the party of the Moral Majority, of Ralph Reed and Jerry Falwell, the party whose leading presidential candidates are riding a wave of anti-Muslim bigotry, the party that increasingly dismisses the wall between church and state as some Marxist, devilish invention, the movement that cheered when conservative archbishops denied communion to lifelong Catholic John Kerry during the 2004 presidential campaign, the movement that is elevating a Kentucky county clerk into a veritable St. Joan of Arc for injecting her faith into her job, in violation of the Constitution.

That very same political movement now believes the pope has gone too far in warning even in general terms against the excesses of greed and reminding us of the moral importance of addressing poverty and the obligation to take care of our planet.

The increasingly unhinged George Will, for example, accused Francis of standing "against modernity, rationality, science" by accepting the modern, rational scientific evidence of manmade climate change. The pope's message is so dangerous that "Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises," Will writes.

"I think religion ought to be about making us better as people, less about things that end up getting into the political realm," says Jeb Bush, warning that "I don't think we should politicize our faith." This, from the circusmaster of the  Terri Schiavo catastrophe, this from the man who applauded students at Falwell's Liberty University just this summer for getting involved in politics and "bringing the Christian voice to where it always is needed, and sometimes isn’t heard enough."

It's a blooming miracle, I tell ya.



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About the Author

Jay Bookman writes about government and politics, with an occasional foray into other aspects of life as time, space and opportunity allow.