President Obama, Vice-President Biden, and their families greeted Pope Francis with smiles when he landed at Washington, D.C., obviously looking forward to the historic visit that includes a gay-activist filled dinner at the White House and addresses to Congress and the United Nations.

With the tumultuous start to the 2016 presidential election cycle, the media is eager to politicize the event so that it is bad news for the Republicans:

Francis has blasted gun manufacturers, likening them to hypocrites. And in a series of tough speeches, Francis has railed against global capitalism, even calling it a “subtle dictatorship.”

Such comments make many Republicans cringe.

“I’m always concerned about those who are bringing spiritual messages that step too far over the line in terms of political issues,” said Sen. Dan Coats, an Indiana Republican and Presbyterian. “I think it can be dangerous territory because then it gives people reason to make a judgment on say, Billy Graham or the Pope or whoever, on the basis of their political leanings — not on the basis of their spirituality.”

The papal-preshow has been so biased that Pope Francis offered this response when asked if he were liberal:

As Pope Francis flew to the United States for the first time, the pontiff assured journalists on the flight that he is not a liberal. Asked to comment on the many media outlets who are asking if the Pope is liberal, the Pope seemed bemused and decisive.

“Some people might say some things sounded slightly more left-ish, but that would be a mistake of interpretation,” he said before landing in the U.S. late Tuesday afternoon for his historic trip . “If you want me to pray the creed, I’m willing to do it.”

In fact, many conservative Catholics adore Pope Francis. Ashley McGuire, a senior fellow with The Catholic Association, has these thoughts about the pontiff.

As a conservative Catholic, have I been challenged by Pope Francis? Sure. His admonishments about a “throwaway culture,” his challenge to go to the margins of society and to get outside the world of “dinners and receptions,” his constant refrain encouraging Catholics to accompany one another along life’s difficult journeys all have challenged me to the core. His focus on the environment, on immigration, on income inequality have caused me to think long and hard about where I stand on those issues and what I can do to help those who are suffering. But contrary to the narrative that Pope Francis is making someone like me worried about the direction of my church, I am energized about how to use my faith to shape the direction of my party. Pope Francis has made me confident and excited that I can bring the principles of my faith to the political arena in a way that improves my party and promotes the common good.

No matter their own personal politics, members of Congress are being reminded of proper protocol ahead of what is anticipated to be a very enthusiastic reception on Capitol Hill:

Political reporter David Hawkings says that leaders in the legislative branch don’t want to take a chance on seeing the historic first address of a Pope to a joint session of Congress turn into the kind of political circus that surrounds the annual State of the Union Address, with members vying for the aisle seats for a possible TV shot with the man of the hour.

“Too many members cannot be trusted to behave themselves when Pope Francis comes to the Capitol, the congressional leadership has decided,” Hawkings writes in CQ Roll Call. “And so, to enforce decorous discipline, some extraordinary measures are being readied.”

Various measures are being taken to ensure some amount of dignity and decorum is maintained. Dark colors and modest hem lengths on skirts are being promoted, and specific seating arrangements are being pushed to provide the Pope “personal space” so he can avoid being crushed in a throng of admirers (avoiding a congressional version of Brazil’s security incident.)

But, perhaps the hardest demands are these: Smartphone selfies, flash photography and cheering are being vigorously discouraged.

That last one is going to hit President Obama the hardest.


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