Letter to the Editor,
A pope and a president
When Pope Francis and President Trump meet, the two leaders will find a meeting of the minds in the following areas of consensus: Religious freedom, pro-life and persecuted Christians.
Pope Francis is an ardent advocate of religious freedom, including a right of conscientious objection based on religious conviction, which he described as a “basic human right.” When he came to the United States in September 2015, Pope Francis called religious freedom “one of America’s most precious possessions. All are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it".
President Trump issued recent executive orders on religious freedom, especially his pledge that the contraceptive mandate imposed by the Obama administration as part of health care reform will be lifted.
President Trump so far has been seen in far more favorable terms by most pro-life leaders. Back in January just days after taking office, President Trump reinstated the “Mexico City Policy” prohibiting U.S. funding of non-government organizations that perform or promote abortions through family-planning funds. Recently the administration expanded that policy, extending it to other forms of foreign aid such as global health assistance. Both moves were widely hailed by pro-life leaders. The appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court was seen as a win for the pro-life position, in part based on his statement in a 2006 book that “no constitutional basis exists for preferring the mother’s liberty interests over the child’s life.”
Pope Francis is obviously committed to the pro-life cause, having defined abortion as a “horrific” crime, and routinely listing the unborn among the victims of what he calls a “throw-away culture.”
President Trump vowed to make the protection of persecuted Christians in the Middle East a foreign policy priority for the United States, while Pope Francis repeatedly has expressed anxiety over the fate of Christians in the region.
There are issues of disagreement between Pope Francis and President Trump, but in these areas the two leaders find common ground.
Marian Casillas, Ed.D.