WASHINGTON (RNS) American lawmakers showered love on Pope Francis last September when he visited the United States. Crowds fawned over his Holy Fiat. But will the romance last past the honeymoon phase?
Four of the nation’s top Catholic federal officials agreed to sit down with The Literalist and respond to the papal exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (On Love and Family), released last week by His Holiness. A rush transcript of our conversation follows.
RNS: On a scale of 1 to 100, how much do you love Pope Francis?
Nancy Pelosi: At least 100.
Paul Ryan: Way over 100. I’d say 150.
RNS: So you agree with all his stances?
Paul Ryan: I wouldn’t say that.
Joe Biden: Certainly not, no.
RNS: Let’s go through some of the papal exhortation. Pretty strong condemnation of same-sex marriage, especially “there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”
Nancy Pelosi: That just doesn’t play with the leather community in San Francisco.
Joe Biden (tearing up): I couldn’t agree more with Nancy. I’ve evolved, the president’s evolved. America has evolved. Some pope will evolve too someday. We’ll all be dead by then, of course.
Paul Ryan: May I say something, Mr. Vice President? This is a big win for Republicans. And to be honest, we haven’t been winning much recently, so let us have it. Maybe not Trump “winning,” but everyone expected the pope to announce he was going to turn the Vatican into Greenwich Village or the Castro District, you know?
Joe Biden: Fair enough.
RNS: The pope doesn’t just reaffirm doctrine, but calls for more leniency and tolerance. “Every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration.”
Nancy Pelosi: Aha! Point Democrats.
Paul Ryan: This isn’t a contest, Nancy. As I continue to not explicitly campaign for consideration of the Republican presidential nomination, let me say this: The pope is right. We can respect all people, but continue to say just the right things to keep the fanatics from open rebellion.
RNS: The pope speaks about more than same-sex marriage …
Nancy Pelosi (interrupting): Exactly.
RNS: He also attacks capitalism. (“The tensions created by an overly individualistic culture, caught up with possessions and pleasures, leads to intolerance and hostility in families,” and “The lack of dignified or affordable housing often leads to the postponement of formal relationships. … Families and homes go together.”)
Nancy Pelosi: Yes, yes, yes! Let’s put those slogans on a bus with some feminist nuns.
Paul Ryan: With all due respect to the Holy Father, our entire culture is based on individualism embedded in free-market capitalism. This isn’t the European Union. This is the United States of America.
RNS: The pope even talks about gender equality. “History is burdened by the excesses of patriarchal cultures that considered women inferior. … The equal dignity of men and women makes us rejoice to see old forms of discrimination disappear.”
Paul Ryan: I’m not sure how this has anything to do with family values.
Nancy Pelosi: This is the Vatican equivalent of bra-burning, Paul.
RNS: Did any of you even read “Amoris Laetitia”?
Joe Biden: I sure read paragraph 303. “Every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience.” That’s what I’ve done.
Paul Ryan: And I’ve done that, but in a better way, I believe.
Nancy Pelosi: Me, too, and I’ll let the American people judge if the Democrat nominee is more enlightened than Donald Trump.
Clarence Thomas: Yes, I read it.
Joe Biden: He speaks! Don’t get us wrong. We still love Francis.
Paul Ryan: Agreed.
(Guthrie Graves-Fitzsimmons writes The Literalist, a twice-weekly satirical news column for RNS. His writing on faith and public policy has appeared in Sojourners, The Washington Post, Texas Tribune and other publications. Follow him on Twitter at @guthriegf)