Pope Francis

Chris Powell: An immigration policy that might save America

Such a policy of generous, strict, controlled, careful, and patriotic immigration would safeguard the country and its culture, be generous to its illegal aliens, and advance the country's ideals as the universal nation.

Don Pesci: Is the Pope Catholic?

VERNON, Conn. Catholics will recognize the line– “Is The Pope Catholic?” – as a joke punchline. Some non-Catholics, and even some laypeople who self-identify as Catholics, must wonder, on reading some encyclicals with which they heartily disagree, “Should the pope be just a trifle less Catholic?”

It would suit progressives, for instance, if the pope would be so good as to repeal thousands of years of Catholic teaching on abortion. No matter the pope of the moment, this will happen only when Hell freezes over. But progressives welcome the present pope’s views on climate change and capital punishment, while on the right, such views are anathema.

Pope Francis’s antipathy toward raw capitalism cheers such as socialist Bernie Sanders, who is running for president this year, as well as President Obama, who, during welcoming ceremonies at the White House, extravagantly praised the pope on his resemblance to himself. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery but, however flattering, imitation falls far short of self-praise, which is always intensely sincere.

A master at co-opting moments, Mr. Obama gave it his best shot. As a community organizer in Chicago early in his political career, Mr. Obama told the 11,000 guests gathered on his lawn to hear the pope, he had worked with the Catholic Church to bring hope and change to the poor.

“Here in the United States, we cherish our religious liberty,” Mr. Obama said, but around the world, at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith.”

Perhaps from a sense of delicacy, Mr. Obama did not identify the chief persecutors of Christians in the world. ISIS, a confederation of Islamic terrorists, has been particularly oppressive. The beheading of Christians, the burning of Christian churches, the rape and enslavement of Christian women never occurred in Chicago when Mr. Obama was evangelizing on its mean streets.

The pope acknowledged that “American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and the right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions.”

As if to underscore his remarks concerning religious liberty, the pope on Wednesday made what is being called “an unscheduled stop” to a convent of nuns, The Little Sisters of the Poor, “to show his support for their lawsuit against U.S. President Barack Obama’s healthcare law.” Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi characterized the unscheduled stop as a “brief but symbolic visit.”

Congress doubtless was pleased to host the pope and listen to his message, but the Holy Father did not dine with Congressional leaders after the presentation, because the keeper of the pope’s schedule already had booked him for lunch with the poor in Washington D.C.

Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, who describes himself as “a non-practicing Catholic,” was stirred by certain portions of the pope’s remarks. We should not let Mr. Malloy’s self-characterization pass without noting that since Catholicism is largely a praxis, there is little difference between “a non-practicing Catholic” and a non-Catholic. Receiving the Pope with 11,000 others on the south lawn of the White House, Mr. Malloy said, was an “amazing” and “moving” experience for him.

According to one paper, Mr. Malloy had “embraced the progressive movement within the Catholic church known as liberation theology. Believers of the movement felt it wasn’t enough to simply care for the poor, but felt it was necessary to pursue political changes to eradicate poverty.”

The pope, Mr. Malloy told the paper, “seems to be inviting that back.” Not true. This pope and others – most dramatically, Pope John Paul II, who was canonized in 2014 – sternly rejected liberation theology, a theological-political movement in the Latin American of the 1970’s that attempted to combine Catholicism with revolutionary socialism, but then one cannot expect part-time Catholics to be current with the theological niceties of their church.

The pope is much more interested in liberty than in liberation theology. He holds, along with Catholics throughout the ages, that true freedom is attained through a love of the good and beautiful, whose exemplar is the Christ of Holy Scripture. All of us will do well to remember that popes are not presidents or congressmen or governor, for which we should all drop to our knees and thank God. The pope’s kingdom, like that of the Christ he serves, is in some sense not of this world.

Don Pesci (donpesci@att.net) is a  political writer who lives in Vernon, Conn.

Global warming and too many people

Pope Francis was right  to denounce mankind's destruction of the environment through fossil-fuel burning, etc But he didn't mention a gigantic factor in all this -- that the earth has too damn many people. A change in the church's birth-control policy would help reduce global warming. -- Robert Whitcomb

Chris Powell: Weather instead of news; hypocritical pope




While "global warming" hasn't changed Connecticut's climate that much, local television news here lately seems to be much less about news and more about weather.

To people who try to take local TV news seriously, this is sometimes comic, as when the forecast for the week ahead is essentially uneventful and unchanging but is belabored and repeated. The local TV news format of weather emphasis suggests that most of the audience goes through day after day without access to a window.

But taking local TV news seriously is probably a mistake. The TV stations themselves must know better; they have market research. If people really wanted to know what was going on around them they'd read newspapers, from which a big part of local TV news is taken anyway without the courtesy of attribution.

So instead local TV news viewers, who generally constitute a statewide rather than merely local audience, are told at great length about things that are relatively far from them, have no impact on them, and about which they can do nothing -- a fire in Meriden, a fatal traffic accident in Waterbury, a holdup in Norwich, a shooting in Bridgeport, a hit-and-run in Norwalk, a flasher in Bristol, a drug bust in New Haven, and a molestation arrest in Putnam, the latter complete with five minutes of interviews with people on the street who know nothing about the case but are willing to speculate on what should be done with the defendant if he's guilty, or even if he's not.

Then in the 10 seconds remaining before the next installment of the weather forecast (which is the same as it was minutes earlier), viewers might be told that the next state budget is coming up a billion dollars short, indicating lots of tax increases and spending cuts affecting everyone, but about which viewers will be left to guess, unless they want to bother with the papers.

Yet as life gets harder, real incomes and living standards fall, voter participation collapses, literacy fades, and college degrees signify less learning than high-school diplomas once did, why should anyone care? Few people are slogging home through rush-hour traffic thinking: "As soon as I get inside I'll be able to read about public policy!" Of course, most are thinking only of dinner and getting away from the grind for a few hours before having to return to it.

The musicians Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan saw it coming 40 years ago in "Only a Fool Would Say That":

The man on the street

Dragging his feet

Don't want to hear the bad news.

Imagine your face

There in his place

Standing inside his brown shoes.

You do his 9 to 5,

Drag yourself home half alive,

And there on the screen,

A man with a dream.

The old complaint is that everybody talks about the weather but nobody does anything about it. But if anything ever could be done about it, it might disappear from local TV news, having become a matter of public policy requiring the greater expense of journalism.


Trying to make nice with Muslims, who lately have been getting some bad publicity, Pope Francis remarked the other day that people shouldn't insult or ridicule the religion of others. But that would be to change the rules in the middle of the game while one is ahead.

After all, Judaism, Christianity and Islam didn't ascend by being respectful to what the Book of Daniel recalls as "the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone," the old idols. Those gods are out of business precisely because the pope's predecessors insulted and ridiculed them, and worse.

Chris Powell is managing editor of the Journal Inquirer, in Manchester, Conn.