Your Progressive President Meets Your Progressive Pope

[Content Note: Anti-choice garbage; transphobia; homophobia; misogyny; clergy abuse.]

Today, President Obama is meeting with Pope Francis, and it already sounds terrific:
The goal of the meeting: Focus on areas where two of the world's most influential men agree and gently tread ground where they differ.

The President and the Pontiff will, as the White House said in a statement, focus on "shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing (income) inequality" and gingerly navigate such thornier topics as same-sex marriage, contraception and abortion.
So, basically, two of the world's most influential men will be ignoring major social issues that don't affect either one of them. And will talk about poverty and income inequality as if systemic oppression and the inability to control one's reproduction have no effect on one's financial stability. Sounds great!
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, Obama pointed to the Pope's concern for income inequality, saying, "Given his great moral authority, when the Pope speaks it carries enormous weight."

Continuing to focus on income inequality, Obama said, "And it isn't just an economic issue, it's a moral issue. I think the Pope was speaking to the danger that over time we grow accustomed to this kind of inequality and accept it as normal. But we can't."

The President said he admires the Pope's courage to speak out on economic and social issues.

"It doesn't mean we agree on every issue, but his voice is one that I think the world needs to hear. He challenges us," Obama told the newspaper. "He implores us to remember the people, especially the poor, who are affected by the economic decisions we make."
Decisions like denying people the right to control their reproduction, you mean?

It's just mendacious shit to argue that the Pope is saying bold and challenging things on poverty, when he manifestly refuses to advance a complex deconstruction of the reasons for poverty. The Pope still argues that women should not have employment equality; that women should not have access to contraception and abortion; that gay/bi people should not be allowed to marry (which, in the US, denies lots of same-sex partnered people crucial access to partners' employee-sponsored healthcare, which is a major financial issue); etc.

Meanwhile, I know the President is a big proponent of "both sides have a valid point" dialogue, but I have to call big-time bullshit on his contention that, despite disagreements, the Pope's "voice is one that I think the world needs to hear." I really don't think that the world needs to hear this dusty relic saying that trans* people are "demonic" or haughtily asserting that "no one else has done more" for victims of clergy abuse than the Catholic Church.

And I get that it's not like the President could say this kind of thing, even if he agreed. That he's obliged to say nice things and praise the Pope as a "moral authority." Which is maybe why don't meet with the Pope.

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