Pope Francis likes the idea of public campaign financing. (Stefano Rellandini/Reuters)

Pope Francis has made his opinion known on a variety of hot-button issues, including Cuba, gay rights and climate change.

Now he’s sharing his thoughts on campaign finance.

His belief? Separate special-interest money from politics.

His comments, reported by Crux, a publication covering the Roman Catholic Church, caught the attention of Ellen Weintraub, a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, who mentioned it before the panel’s meeting Tuesday. They joked that maybe the pope would like to come testify at an FEC hearing.

Weintraub assured us Wednesday there are no plans to extend an invitation to Francis.

Discussing the general elections this fall in Argentina, his home country, he called for a “free, unfinanced campaign.”

“In the financing of electoral campaigns, many interests get into the mix, and then they send you the bill,” Francis said in answering questions last month, according to Crux.

“Perhaps public financing would allow for me, the citizen, to know that I’m financing each candidate with a given amount of money,” he said. “Everything needs to be transparent and clean.”

“I am happy for anyone to recognize campaign finance,” Weintraub told the Loop. “This might be even better than Stephen Colbert.”

The pope is planning a visit to Washington this fall and has accepted an invitation to address Congress. Perhaps he’ll share his thoughts on campaign finance with American politicians deep in the throes of an expected multibillion-dollar presidential campaign?

For what it’s worth, the CatholicVote.org super PAC, one of many Catholic-affiliated political committees, spent $293,335 in the 2012 campaign, according to OpenSecrets.org.

Cloaked in anonymity

In today’s digital age, it’s almost impossible to keep conversations private. Every thought shared, even under the auspices of privacy — a personal e-mail, a friends-only Facebook status — could easily become public.

That pressure keeps people on Capitol Hill from connecting in any real way. Or at least that’s the rationale behind former Hill staffer Ted Henderson’s latest smartphone app.

Henderson, who created Capitol Bells, an iPhone app that tracks floor votes taken in real time, has a new toy called Cloakroom that allows anyone with a congressional e-mail address or who is physically on Capitol Hill (lobbyists, reporters, tourists) to anonymously join conversations to see what Hill people are buzzing about.

For now, it appears users are using it primarily to joke in a safe space.

One person under the alias “senmenendez” posted: “Anyone have a good lawyer? Asking for a friend.”

Then “schock” responds: “I’ve got a guy,” and “govmcdonnell” writes, “Don’t look at me.”

(Of course, Rep. Aaron Schock has hired lawyers from Jones Day, the firm that represented convicted former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell, but we digress.)

Another user wants the best war stories on “SJL” — Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Tex.). Someone responds about the one with the tequila in the House gallery.

Another says an intern dumped a huge stack of constituent mail in the trash in front of visitors from the user’s district. Another wants to know if anyone got sick from the “grill special at the Dirksen cafeteria.”

Henderson hopes Hill types will eventually use the app for more serious debates on policy, but generally he just wants it to create a community.

“One thing I found there talking to lifers is that the social environment on the Hill has changed . . .,” he said. “There’s so much camera glare that people don’t have the space to have these backroom discussions they need to have.”

So is this the smoke-filled room for the digital era?

“I hope so,” Henderson said.

The difference, of course, is that in this room everyone (with an iPhone) is invited — but no one knows who they’re really talking to.

The Clinton chronicles

Back in 1997, in pre-Monica-scandal days, President Bill Clinton was asked by our colleague Karen Tumulty about his wife’s upcoming 50th birthday and how he once told her early on that “she was somebody you wanted to grow old with.”

What did you mean then and what does that mean to you now? asked Tumulty, who was then working for Time magazine.

“I know exactly what it meant to me then,” Clinton said, adding that “one of the things that I wanted to do was to be married to someone that I loved so much . . . and felt so close to that when I was old I could sit with her on a park bench and watch 20-year-olds go by in the first bloom of their youth and feel no resentment, because I felt so fulfilled.”

Well, so much for that park-bench routine.

Hillary Clinton is now headed full tilt into what promises to be an exceptionally nasty 2016 campaign as the couple try to claw their way back into the White House. So now, when she turns 70, she hopes to be in the Oval Office, and he’ll be, well, somewhere nearby.

Of course, they could always put rocking chairs out on the Truman Balcony overlooking the South Lawn, sip some wine, perhaps a Turley Estate petite sirah . . .

Ripped from the headlines

In perhaps the mostly timely inspector general’s report of all time, the State Department’s watchdog released its review of the agency’s e-mail record-keeping Wednesday, highlighting specific lapses and confusion.

The IG concluded that there’s no “central oversight” of recording e-mails at State. And that “many emails that qualify as records are not being saved as record emails.”

The IG conducted its review last year of a program lower-level State employees use for archiving their e-mails. A footnote in the report clarifies that it’s not used by “high-level principals, the Secretary, the Deputy Secretaries, the Under Secretaries, and their immediate staffs, which maintain separate systems.”

Still the report suggests a culture at State where e-mail record-keeping is not a priority.

In 2011, State employees wrote more than 1 billion e-mails, but only 61,156 were maintained for the official record, the IG found. In 2013, it was even lower, with 41,749 submitted for the record.

“Some employees do not create record emails because they do not want to make the email available in searches or fear that this availability would inhibit debate about pending decisions,” the IG wrote.

State’s policy on e-mails has been a hot topic of late with news that former secretary of state Hillary Clinton used a private account for all her State business. The IG report does not mention personal e-mails, or how those should be recorded.

The IG concluded that State employees need better training on “what types of emails should be saved as record emails.”

— With Colby Itkowitz

Twitter: @KamenInTheLoop, @ColbyItkowitz