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This week, Pope Francis will make his first visit to the U.S. His itinerary includes stops in Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York and, perhaps unsurprisingly, politics has come front and center.
Pope Francis will be greeted upon arriving in the U.S. by President Obama. As detailed in the New York Times, Obama has not extended such a gesture to any other foreign visitor during his tenure as president. As Obama enters the home stretch of his second term in office, he and Francis seem like close ideological allies. Both have spoken out on climate change, wealth inequality, immigration, and criminal justice reform. Francis also played a crucial role in negotiating the restart of diplomatic relations between Cuba and the U.S.
Related: Can the Pope Really Influence American Politics?
What does the pope's visit mean for Republicans? Republican House Speaker John Boehner invited him to speak at a joint session of Congress. However, it's widely expected that Francis will devote much of his speech to climate change. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell recently introduced a bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said the timing of the legislation's introduction was deliberately timed with the papal visit. GOP Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee also severely criticized Obama for "politicizing" the pope's visit to the White House, by inviting the first openly gay Episcopal bishop to the welcome ceremony.
The visit comes at a time when American Catholics are overwhelmingly supportive of Francis and his leadership. A new poll from the New York Times/CBS News finds that 8 out of 10 Catholics approve of the direction of the Church under Pope Francis. This figure is much higher than Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict.
The pope warns churches to take in refugees-or else (qz.com)
"Pope Francis has issued a stark warning to Roman Catholic religious orders: help alleviate the escalating refugee crisis in Europe by hosting asylum seekers, or pay taxes, like everyone else."
Pope Says Church Is 'Obsessed' With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control (nytimes.com)
"Six months into his papacy, Pope Francis sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic church on Thursday with the publication of his remarks that the church had grown "obsessed" with abortion, gay marriage and contraception, and that he had chosen not to talk about those issues despite recriminations from critics."
On Gay Priests, Pope Francis Asks, 'Who Am I to Judge?' (nytimes.com)
"For generations, homosexuality has largely been a taboo topic for the Vatican, ignored altogether or treated as "an intrinsic moral evil," in the words of the previous pope."
Where Pope Francis Really Stands On Issues Like Abortion, Divorce, And Gay Marriage (huffingtonpost.com)
"Pope Francis is expected to raise issues ranging from climate change to income inequality when he visits Cuba and the United States Sept. 19-27."