Pope Francis: A Political Mystery


There are two things that Pope Francis’s recent interview with 60 Minutes made clear: He is a complicated figure who defies easy ideological classification, and the media often misrepresents him.

The interview conducted by Norah O’Donnell offers a compelling glimpse into the thoughts of a man who has led the Catholic Church for over a decade, while also highlighting the media’s misunderstanding of the Church and its tendency to project progressive desires onto the pope.

The first indication of Francis’s distinct approach arose when O’Donnell asked about migration, particularly at the southern U.S. border. The pope started by humorously noting that Irish immigrants brought whiskey while Italians brought the Mafia to the U.S., and labeled Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s attempt to shut down a Catholic Charities house for illegal immigrants as “crazy.”

However, the pope, often labeled a progressive advocating for open borders, also stated that deportation could be a reasonable migration response.

“Each immigrant must be received, but after it must be seen how they are to be treated,” the pope said. “Perhaps they must be sent back, I don’t know. Each case must be humanely assessed.”

With this statement, the pope effectively reasserted U.S. asylum law. Asylum seekers at the border are subject to the federal system’s determination of their qualifications for asylum. Those who do not qualify, particularly if involved in criminal activity, are to be deported.

Apart from the Catholic Charities issue, the pope’s stance aligns with prior U.S. asylum laws before President Joe Biden’s open border policies. O’Donnell, in her attempts to frame Pope Francis as a liberal reformer, did not address the overwhelmed state of the border security infrastructure, which hampers proper asylum claim assessments and border stability.

O’Donnell’s interpretation was further evident when she inquired about a Vatican document released last year, which clarified that people in same-sex relationships could receive individual blessings.

O’Donnell inaccurately claimed the pope allowed “Catholic priests to bless same-sex couples,” describing it as a “big change.” The pontiff quickly corrected this, stating he had not allowed such blessings.

“What I permitted was not to bless the union,” he said. “That cannot be done because it is not the sacrament of marriage. I cannot do that; the Lord made it the way it is. I allowed each person to be blessed. Blessings are for everyone. To bless a homosexual union is contrary to the natural law and the law of the church.”

Despite criticisms and the media’s portrayal, Pope Francis is not the liberal ideologue often depicted. His views encompass both conservative and liberal elements, reflecting the teachings of the Catholic Church.

In the same interview, where he endorsed deportations and opposed same-sex marriage, the pope commented on conservatism, describing conservatives as those who “cling to what they know and do not look beyond,” and labeled this mindset as “suicidal,” without further elaboration.

While Pope Francis may sometimes be labeled a liberal due to certain comments and past statements, his ideology remains deeply rooted in traditional Catholic teachings.

Jeremiah Poff
Jeremiah Poff
Jeremiah Poff is a commentary writer. Raised in Virginia, Jeremiah previously worked as an education reporter. Prior to that, he worked for the Cardinal Newman Society, the Department of Education, and The College Fix. He graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2019 with a degree in journalism and a minor in human life studies.

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