Today, there are more than 1.19 billion Roman Catholics in the world, all unified behind one man. The selection of the next pope, a process known as the conclave, could change the course of all humanity, or not. Whether the new pope is prepared or not, one thing is certain, he will become the most powerful man in the Catholic Church, with unmeasurable influence.
In three separate interviews, VOXXI spoke with a Catholic pro-life activist, a single Hispanic Republican Catholic woman and an inactive Catholic in Argentina. Our visits shed light on the subject of papal political activism and the influence of the Catholic Church on policy in America and around the world.
A pro-life pope?
The most political issue in America regarding the Catholic Church is abortion, a strictly prohibited practice in the church. John Pisciotta, a self proclaimed “cradle Catholic,” and president of the very effective, Pro-Life Waco, explained how the pope should advocate for policy change. “This is tricky though,” said Pisciotta, “There are some policy areas which deal with inherent good and evil. Others are practically a matter of prudential judgment.”
According to Pisciotta, “Good Catholics and good Christians can disagree on prudential judgement (policy effectiveness), but will expansion of government disability spending really help the poor or will it be counter-productive?” The answer to that question is not within the realm of religion.
Unlike U.S. elections for political office, the conclave is not in the business of showcasing one cardinal over another. Rather, as Pisciotta says, “No one is a candidate per se, and for a cardinal to express the thought that he would be an excellent person to follow Benedict XVI would virtually eliminate that person.”
So how then is the pope selected?
“We believe God has selected the successor to Benedict XVI. It is the role of the cardinals to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to select this most suitable person to continue to lead the church in the 21st century,” explained Pisciotta, who’s request of the new pope would be to “welcome the Holy Father urging bishops and clergy to preach and go out into the streets to challenge the grave evil of abortion.”
Democrats see opportunity
In America, 25 percent of the adult population belong to the Catholic Church, nearly 77 million people. Many are active, practicing Catholics, but some are not. According to the Hispanic Churches in American Public Life national survey, 70 percent of Latinos are Catholic, translating into 29 million Catholic Latinos in the United States.
The southern states, including Texas, New Mexico and Arizona are experiencing a Hispanic population surge, and those states are reaching a turning point. Soon, Hispanics will outnumber everyone else, and through sheer volume, the Democratic Party is anticipating what they perceive to be the final nail in the coffin for the Republican Party.
Proud of their work to “help” the people through social service programs and their ability to increase the welfare rolls, some Democrats see a light at the end of a tunnel. Their tireless effort to grow government dependency is working, and soon, the American people will become conditioned to accept hand-outs.
Influence of the Catholic Church in Argentina
David Garro, a “lone bird, in a burning jungle,” lives in San Juan, Argentina and is a Catholic, though inactive.
He’s on the side of freedom, a not-so-popular position in Argentina, and is a solitary voice in his world where nearly 90 percent of the population is Catholic. Because of the large majority Catholic government, it’s easy to influence the political process and in Argentina, an extremely progressive socialist-leaning government works harmoniously with the social agenda of the Catholic Church.
Because of the influence of the church, one may assume the government in Argentina might be a nice, peaceful and fair system, but Garro disagrees. “The church is deeply involved in politics, I mean, it always gives opinions about every policy and lately, they clash often due to the strong socialist trend of government.”
“The church down here considers capitalism and free markets as a deviation; as much as Communism. The political stance of Argentina’s church is this: Communism is as bad as capitalism,” explained Garro, who mentioned how difficult it is to go against the grain.
He said people in Argentina were interested in the selection of the pope, but did not hold any hope for change. “They (Catholic Church) support the famous third position, which is “social democracy,” adding that the church “would be happy with Obama.”
When people live without true freedom, they crave it. All around the world, they struggle under repressive governments, where their jobs are at stake, and livelihood lies in the hands of corrupt city councilmen and police.
We asked David if anyone else in Argentina felt like him. “I admit some people ‘seem’ to think the way I do, but when the time comes they sell their soul to the devil,” he said. “We are too corrupted.. I say ‘we’ because I don’t want to judge… I feel somehow responsible of this mess… after all I’m Argentinian.”
The pope’s advocacy is good but not too much
Valerie Santiago, an activist in San Antonio,Texas, is extremely vocal regarding policy in the U.S. An outspoken conservative Christian, with strong family values and traditional upbringing, Santiago believes, “While the pope’s role is not that of politician, popes have advocated on behalf of political change if their conscience tells them that certain policy really hurts people.”
“Pope John Paul II, for example, did much advocacy on behalf of the people of Cuba. In America, the next pope might wish to address our policies on abortion, on homosexuality (gay marriage, teaching homosexuality in schools, etc.), or some of the more Socialist policies which have the potential to end up hurting a lot more people than they may help,” she added.
San Antonio, a key city in the Democratic plan to turn Texas blue, is the home of Democrat Julian Castro, the major of the city with 1.36 million, 63 percent of which are Hispanic. Similar cities like Houston, Austin and Dallas/Ft. Worth are already trending toward the Democrat Party, which creates an incredible political opportunity if trends continue.
As many experts are now saying, Texas is in play for Democrats, which means if Texas turns blue and the 38 electoral votes swing toward the “D” column, it becomes mathematically impossible for a Republican to win the presidency.
Careful what you ask for, you might get it
In America, freedom of religion is prized as one of our most significant rights and freedom from religion created one the world’s largest mass exoduses from Europe.
Despite our overwhelming Christian population, we still cringe at the thought of religion taking over government, as it’s done in numerous countries around the world, imposing itself on the people. Whether it’s Islam or Christianity, no religion in America surpasses the rights of the people, and therefore, Americans will not tolerate excessive religious influence.
Soon, the Catholic Church will be under the leadership of a new pope and based on these recent interviews it seems Catholics in America would welcome some political activism by the pope. Yet others who fear an overreaching arm of the Catholic Church say we should be careful what we ask for. If we’re not careful, we might end up like Argentina, where a social agenda has evolved and socialism has manifested.