A Catholic congressman said he’s boycotting Pope Francis address to the House and Senate — the hottest ticket in town next week — because he fears the pontiff will spend too much time talking about climate change.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) wrote in his announcement that “media reports” state the pope will focus on “all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into ‘climate justice’ and …presented to guilt people into leftist policies.”
“If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line. If the Pope spoke out with moral authority against violent Islam, I would be there cheering him on. If the Pope urged the Western nations to rescue persecuted Christians in the Middle East, I would back him wholeheartedly,” Gosar said. “But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.”
“…If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend. It is my hope that Pope Francis realizes his time is better spent focusing on matters like religious tolerance and the sanctity of all life.”
However, the content of Pope Francis’ speech — much of which is expected to be off-the-cuff — isn’t even known to the White House, which told reporters it wants to hear climate change talk from Pope Francis but fears and expects topics like abortion to come up.
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Kenneth Hackett told CNN that Pope Francis will be talking about “the persecution of people and the jailing of people, human rights activists” in his first stop, Cuba, and won’t be making swipes at American culture in his criticisms of capitalism.
“He sees problems with the excesses of capitalism and just the excessive striving after profit so that it affects people; and people fall through the cracks and the poor are hurt. That’s where he will focus,” Hackett said. “He is somebody who has a great concern. He knows about hard work and he knows that Americans work hard every day and the majority of Americans are striving to feed their families and educate their kids. And that he will applaud. But it’s the excesses that he’s concerned about.”
Hackett added that the message to Congress won’t be different than what Pope Francis says elsewhere.
“He has strongly held values which he repeats over and over again. The care for creation. He’s concerned about the persecution of Christians and other minorities in parts of the world. He’s concerned, obviously, about people who fall through the cracks, the homeless, the migrants,” the ambassador said. “Every day in Europe, we see a new migrant flow. And — and he’s aware of that, as well. And he may raise that issue when he comes to the United States.”
And the pope’s speech to the United Nations will come after UN experts accused the Vatican last year of committing torture with its pro-life doctrine. “The Holy See condemns the torture of anyone, including those tortured and killed before they are born,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Apostolic Nuncio at the United Nations in Geneva, fired back last year.
The main purpose of Pope Francis’ visit, though, is the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.
Nearly 31 percent of this Congress is Catholic, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who invited the pope — as well as the two previous popes. Gosar is part of a group of House conservatives trying to oust Boehner from his leadership post.
Each member of Congress only got one guest ticket inside the chamber for the address, and 50 to 200 tickets for the Capitol lawn, where the address will be shown on a jumbo screen — followed by a wave from Pope Francis on the speaker’s balcony. Demand for those tickets has been so great that lawmakers have largely used lotteries to distribute them.