There’s no reason to think that Pope Francis is especially open to lobbying, but during his first trip to the United States this week, he’ll nonetheless be met with nearly as many policy suggestions angling for the Papal Seal of Approval (or at least a sliver of his spotlight) as cheering Catholics. As a master politician, he should understand that. Here is a comprehensive list of the political stances Americans are asking the pope to take:
Food-stamp cuts must end.
Ninety House Democrats co-authored a letter to the pontiff, asking him to highlight America’s income inequality and decry the GOP’s efforts to reduce welfare spending for the poor.
“Your message of hope could not come at a more crucial time,” they write. “In particular to those in our nation that are struggling on a minimum wage salary, or relying on public assistance to put food on the table.”
Federal funding for Planned Parenthood must end.
Republican senators celebrated the pope’s arrival this morning with a procedural vote on a 20-week-abortion ban. The senators hope that doing so will encourage the pope to call for an end to legal abortion in the United States, giving moral support to the GOP in its quixotic effort to defund Planned Parenthood.
“The message to the Pope is … there are only seven countries in the world that allow abortion this late, at five months,” Republican Oklahoma senator James Lankford told Politico. “And I’d like us to not be one of them.”
The Senate cafeteria workers need raises.
Nearly 1,000 service workers at privately managed but federally owned workplaces — such as the Senate cafeteria or Smithsonian museum — marched to Capitol Hill Tuesday morning to draw the pope’s attention to their unionization drive. The workers — united under the banner “Good Jobs Nation” — were joined by progressive religious leaders and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders as they called on the pope to demand that federal contractors recognize unions and pay a living wage. While the strikers appreciate the pope’s past statements on economic inequality, they’d like to see him get a bit more specific.
“For him to speak and mention Good Jobs Nation and the Senate workers directly to Congress, that would be an even bigger plus,” 63-year-old Senate cafeteria worker Charles Gladden told Al Jazeera America. “Because we’re all fighting for the same thing.”
Free markets are the best thing that ever happened to the world’s poor.
Right-wing economist Stephen Moore wants the pope to stop worrying about “the idolatry of money” and learn to love free markets.
“Free markets create wealth, and it is the moral responsibility of all Christians to use our wealth in ways that help those most in need,” Moore tells the pope to tell America. “High taxes, trade barriers and big welfare states may be well intentioned, but they make the poor poorer.”
Now is the time for comprehensive immigration reform.
A group of House Democrats released a YouTube video in which they each stare into the camera and implore Pope Francis to endorse comprehensive immigration reform.
“Pope Francis, today we call on you to address the needs of immigrants and refugees in the United States and around the world,” said California congressman Jim Costa.
Muslim refugees belong in Muslim countries.
Republican Iowa congressman and preeminent xenophobe Steve King suggests that Francis reconsider his call for the U.S. to take in more Syrian refugees.
“It would be much better if Pope Francis would step up and say there’s a place where the refugees from Syria and Iraq and that part of the world can be instantly assimilated, and that would be the Muslim countries in the Middle East,” King told Politico.
Investing in clean power alternatives is the best solution to climate change.
House Democrats released a separate YouTube video in which they pepper Pope Francis with potential climate-change talking points and policy proposals.
“We must support clean power alternatives, such as wind and solar, to keep our environment healthy, for the sake of families in America and around the world,” said California congressman Jerry McNerney.
Turning up our air conditioners is the best solution for climate change.
In his encyclical on climate change, Francis criticized the excessive use of air-conditioning as one example of the harmful consumption habits encouraged by an amoral global economy. But Service Roundtable CEO Matt Michel wants the pope to realize that even if “climate change” is real, air-conditioning is exactly what humanity will need to overcome it.
“Neither I, nor any other soul on this earth knows if the planet is warming or cooling, or whether man can significantly affect the climate,” Michel writes. “Nevertheless, if warming resumes, it will be air conditioning that will save humanity and ease the suffering from a warmer planet.”
Same-sex marriage is a blessing.
In Time, Maria Shriver and Sister Joan Chittister suggest the pope check to see if God has changed his mind about the whole same-sex marriage thing.
“You’ve proclaimed an upcoming Jubilee Year of Mercy,” they write. “Might that mercy ever be extended to gay couples who want to be married in the eyes of God?”
Same-sex marriage is an abomination.
While Iowa congressman Steve King isn’t crazy about Pope Francis’s refugee policies, he told Politico he would like to hear the pontiff talk about an issue “that is so strong among the Catholic Church, is the position of marriage, and it being between a man and a woman.”
Wawa hoagies are the holy of holies.
Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter hasn’t explicitly requested that his holiness praise the quality of Wawa hoagies before Congress, but he will try to cajole the pope into downing at least one of them upon his arrival in Philly.
“I’m pleased to announce that we expect to serve Pope Francis a Wawa hoagie of his choice,” Nutter declared at the recent opening of a dine-in version of the convenience store.
America may not trust the pope to choose his own political platform, but at least when it comes to navigating Wawa’s hoagie selection, we’re prepared to trust his judgment.