This week we select not a “pol” but a pope. You have to hand it to Pope Francis. President Obama went to the Holy See hoping some papal popularity would rub off on him. But Pope Francis’s humility and pious devotion to his flock aren’t transferable, especially to a president so hostile to religious liberty back home. The White House made it seem like a meeting the DNC — lots of talk of inequality, spun the White House. The Vatican press office was having none of it and issued the following (making it seem more like oral argument at the Hobby Lobby case):
This morning, 27 March 2014, the Hon. Barack H. Obama, President of the United States of America, was received in audience by His Holiness Pope Francis, after which he met with His Eminence Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States.
During the cordial meetings, views were exchanged on some current international themes and it was hoped that, in areas of conflict, there would be respect for humanitarian and international law and a negotiated solution between the parties involved.
In the context of bilateral relations and cooperation between Church and State, there was a discussion on questions of particular relevance for the Church in that country, such as the exercise of the rights to religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform. Finally, the common commitment to the eradication of trafficking of human persons in the world was stated.
Touché. The pope threw not a bone Obama’s way, no cover at all for the White House version. For honesty, candor and determination — what did the ’60′s generation call it? — to speak truth to power we say well done, your Holiness.