The Francis Scorecard so far: Liberals 7, Conservatives 2

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Scorecard of the first perfect game in baseball history, 1880


Scorecard of the first perfect game in baseball history, 1880

Scorecard of the first perfect game in baseball history, 1880

Scorecard of the first perfect game in baseball history, 1880

Church spokesmen and mainstream religion reporters like to make the point that the pope — any pope — hews not to a liberal or conservative line in secular politics, but marches to the distinctively different beat of Catholic social doctrine. And the point is sufficiently true that woe to those who deny it.

But the fact remains that popes, through what they choose to emphasize and how they choose to emphasize it, may offer more aid and comfort to one side of the political divide than the other. And at the end of Pope Francis’ Washington innings my scorecard reads: Liberals 7, Conservatives 2, with innumerable hits and one error.

On the liberal side, I score runs on immigration, climate change, the death penalty, caring for the poor, assuring the common good, ending the culture war, and political over economic decision-making. Conservatives scored on abortion and religious liberty.

Of course, conservatives will argue that they also care about the poor. They just don’t believe in robust government programs to help them. If anyone doubts that Pope Francis was sending anything but that message, I suggest a rereading of his speech Congress. As in: “I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes.”

For their part, liberals will insist that they too care about religious liberty. But not only did Francis pair the subject with climate change in his remarks at the White House, by making an unscheduled stop at the Little Sisters of the Poor convent, he signaled his support for their legal case against the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate. Lest anyone doubt that, papal spokesman Lombardi spelled it out.

The hits, of course, could be read in the smiles of the president and his family, the tears of John Boehner, the smiles and cheers of the crowds. And the error? That was Francis’ own in telling the assembled leaders of the church that they were doing a heckuva job handling the sexual abuse crisis.

Assume for the sake of argument that he decided they didn’t need a reminder that he’d pushed two of them out of office this past year for doing less than a heckuva job in that regard, or that he’s established a standing tribunal in the Vatican for dealing with those who fail to deal properly with charges of child sexual abuse against priests and other diocesan personnel.

The message to the rest of the church, and especially to those who have suffered the most, was not good. I score it, Bishops 1, Victims 0.

  • Francis has NOT set up this tribunal. He’s said he will. He hasn’t done it yet and the AP reported yesterday that it doesn’t appear it will be set up any time soon.

    David Clohessy, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 314 566 9790,

  • Betty Clermont

    Since the 2016 campaign is already well underway, the pope failed to critique capitalism in his speech. Not to mention insulting Native Americans and sex abuse survivors.
    Actions speak louder than words and he did meet with the Catholic League’s Bill Donohue ( and the nuns fighting Obamacare.


    Yo, Mark. I think we should make that three errors. One each for the words used to describe the USA RCC leadership’s conduct, action and decision-making in relative to clergy sexual abuse victimization.

    (1) COURAGE
    (2) SACRIFICE (great)
    (3) GENEROUS

    Give me one atta-boy for my word: INCREDULITY

  • George Nixon Shuler

    Yo, Mark, I like that scorekeeping there. I think your interpretation of events is correct. There might be some poster here of right of center mindset who want to claim “This isn;’t about politics.” They are either expressing their stupidity or their willingness to manipulate by saying that. Of course it is all about politics. Politics is not who you vote for, it’s how you live your life.

    Now if only there could be a headline about the Supreme Court which included the second line of your headline!

  • Marcia

    We think he’s great for prophetically calling out those we disagree with. Then he’s wrong about our pet issue. Oops.

  • drwho13

    Move along folks, nothing to see here. A tribunal is no longer required. The courage of the bishops (sorcerers) made the need for a tribunal disappear.

    Thank you for attending the RC magic show, the greatest show on earth, IMAGE, IMAGE, IMAGE. And, please remember the bishops in the 2nd collection.

  • Greg1

    I think you might have misinterpreted the pope’s words regarding care for the poor: he was directing those words at each and every one of us, not just the government. The liberals in government believe in government aid, yet are the worst in terms of personal aid to those in need.

  • Jack

    So you’re saying “everything is political” — which was the theme phrase of 1960s radicals.

    No….not everything in life is political….only a monomaniacal obsessive believes that.

  • Jack

    Liberals find it impossible to conceive of anything happening in life without government making it happen.

    I suppose they teach their kids that the government makes babies, too.

  • Jack

    In other words, no matter how liberal the pope appears, it’s not good enough for those posters who want to see Catholicism as well as all other forms of religion dead.

    The leaders of North Korea and other cheery tourist attractions couldn’t agree more.

  • Diane Maguire

    I would like to add that women did not score well either. In spite of his words of encouragement towards women, the visual images of him being surrounded by all men at almost all times was a powerful reminder of how far the church has to go. His ‘joke’ at the expense of women as mothers in law saddened me deeply. He clearly does not have women in his life.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    Only a person divorced from reality thinks otherwise.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    Only in the Faux version of reality. I prefer Jefferson’s dictum of “That government which governs best governs least.” Under that paradigm, there’d be no Patriot Act and no government claiming eminent domain over lady parts.

  • George Nixon Shuler

    Actally, NoKo has a state religion: veneration of the dictator.

    I’d like to see Catholicism practice what it preaches and do something about the terrific inequality under present systems.