Change is in the air as we endure the media clown show our quadrennial presidential election campaigns have become. The American imperium seems to be going through some sort of painful self-examination process, and the addition of Pope Francis' mainstream message of the Christ-based preferential option for the poor can only make the dialogue that much richer and more profound. Bill O'Reilly tried futilely on Fox News to selectively distort the pope's remarks as anti-Obama and about abortion and homosexuality. It felt like the desperation of a Catholic right-wing bully. I agree with Joe Biden: Abortion is wrong, but the question is who should assume the moral burden for the act, the individual taking it or the state and its need to punish. On homosexuality and marriage, the Catholic Church is still living in the dark ages, especially considering its worldwide scandal of priests abusing young boys. The pope's emphasis on the importance of family is something the right and the left share.
During his remarks in Spanish to the thousands of people gathered before the US capitol building, Pope Francis spoke to atheists. After asking Christians to pray for him, he asked those who "do not believe" to, in their own way, keep him in their hearts and think about him and his message. This exhibited the man's openness and strength. My wife was raised a Catholic and, therefore, she knows what it means to "pray." I really do not have a clue what "praying" means. But as Francis requested, I'm putting him in my thoughts. His message may be more pragmatic than radically pure, but it's one of the clearest, most effective calls for ordinary Americans to get off their apathetic asses to work for positive change I've heard in a very long time.
Here in Philadelphia, the city awaits the pope's arrival this weekend. It's booked as a meeting with the American people. It looks to be both an ungainly circus and a profound event in the dialogue of American politics.
JOHN GRANT is a member of This Cant Be Happening!, where this article first ran. His work, and that of colleagues DAVE LINDORFF, GARY LINDORFF, ALFREDO LOPEZ, LORI SPENCER, LINN WASHINGTON, and the late CHARLES M. YOUNG, can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net