In a meeting at the Vatican today, Pope Francis pushed President Obama on “religious freedom, life and conscientious objection, as well as the issue of immigration reform.” Such words could be taken as bracing, but one suspects President Obama nodded along.
After all, the President affirms all four values, but on strange terms. Religious freedom ends at the temple door, life does not begin until birth (and not even then for abortion victims born alive), conscientious objection is subject to fine, and immigration reform means (for him as for most of the GOP) creating a permanent class of non-citizen temporary workers who are denied full rights and depress working-class wages.
Barack Obama and Pope Francis sat down with two translators, and one can’t help but think they were sorely needed. Not just to bridge the gap between the Pope’s Spanish and the President’s English, but between the moral vocabulary of the church of Christ and the strange language of liberalism.