President Obama is increasingly allied with the Vatican on controversial policies. Pope Francis stands virtually shoulder-to-shoulder with the White House on a number of issues including income inequality and climate change.
The White House and the Papacy secretly collaborated to orchestrate the historic diplomatic change between the U.S. and Cuba. Siding with Pope Francis offers the President and U.S. Democrats clear benefits in the near term because Francis is one of the most respected leaders on the planet.
The pope has become the democrat’s biggest allies on income inequality. The pope’s remarks against “trickle-down economics” in 2014 appeared to embrace Democratic policies of wealth redistribution. “Those of us in America should pay heed” to the pontiff’s words, said Sen. Richard J. Durbin of Illinois after Francis’ comments on income inequality.
But philandering with the pope also has a downside and may exact a large political price. In the future, the pope may well focus on points of disagreement such as abortion and religious liberty to pressure democrats to further align with the Papacy in order to keep American Catholics in the democratic camp. But that could, in fact, create headaches with liberal Catholics in politics and a deeper rift with the Democratic Party. In other words, collaborating with Rome now will likely put a lot of pressure on the Democrats later unless the party recalibrates its center of gravity away from those issues that the church sees as grave and serious moral error.
The Catholic Church has carefully crafted a working relationship with the Democratic Party in spite of the chasm between them on moral issues in the past couple of years since the beginning of the Francis pontificate. Now in 2015, the pontiff appears to be poised to provide support to the White House on other initiatives. Francis plans to call for greater action on climate change in September at the UN climate summit where he will be one of the most prominent voices. He also plans to publish a letter to the bishops urging greater action on climate change. These two actions will again place him alongside Mr. Obama on a controversial issue.
As usual, the pope will speak in broad terms, not naming specific programs, but his language will essentially sanction the President’s plans without outright endorsing them.