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Rev. Sirico: Pope’s Trip To U.S. As Pastor, Not Policy Wonk

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Just weeks before Pope Francis sets foot on U.S. soil, he’s all ready a sell-out in many places he’ll be visiting. And the media is trying to get a handle on just what the pontiff will be talking about while he’s here.

In The Detroit News today, Melissa Nann Burke talks to some Washington insiders, regarding the pope’s time there.

Guests of Michigan’s 16-member delegation for the Sept. 24 address include Paul Long, head of the Michigan Catholic Conference; Martin Manna, an advocate for Iraqi Christian refugees and president of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce in Southfield; the Rev. Robert Sirico, president of the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids; and Karl Kiser, president of the University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy — a guest of Sen. Gary Peters.

“It is obviously a great honor to have Pope Francis address Congress,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing.

Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, said he hopes the pontiff will speak to pro-life issues.

Acton Institute President Rev. Robert Sirico will attend the pope’s address to a joint session of Congress at the invitation of Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland. Sirico spoke to The Detroit News regarding this speech.

Sirico doesn’t think it was a good idea for Francis to accept [Speaker of the House] Boehner’s invitation because he can’t avoid having his message interpreted in political ways and parsed by partisan camps to their own advantage — especially during a U.S. presidential election campaign, he said

“He won’t be there as a policy wonk but as a pastor,” said Sirico, a frequent commentator on the church and the pope.

“The thing that’s so riveting about him is how spontaneous he is, which is why I think this is time to get the popcorn and sit in front of the television.”

The press and commentators have misinterpreted Francis as hostile to free markets, but that’s inaccurate, said Sirico, whose group promotes the “study of free-market economics informed by religious faith.”

“He’s critical of the ways that some people act in the markets, and certainly any kind of idolatry of consumerism, but on the other hand he says that business is a noble vocation,” Sirico said.

The pope will also be visiting New York City and Philadelphia.

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Elise Hilton Communications Specialist at Acton Institute. M.A. in World Religions.

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