When the Two Most Powerful Catholics in the World Meet

When the Two Most Powerful Catholics in the World Meet October 29, 2021

Who are the two most influential Catholics in the world? President Biden and Pope Francis. So, remind me why American taxpayers are helping to fund their Vatican fireside chat.

The world’s most powerful Catholics — President Joe Biden and Pope Francis — held 90 minutes of talks Friday in a session that blended the official and personal sides of the most devout US leader in decades.”

Yes, their meeting suggests that the line between separation of church and state has been crossed—again. Which should get under the skin of freethinkers, but it should even irk the followers of all faiths, because the president is not meeting with the leaders of their respective religions.

As far as the optics go, the two met because they are both Catholics and Biden was seeking spiritual inspiration.

“Biden, alongside first lady Jill Biden, returned to the Vatican to meet a Pope who has provided both familial comfort and ideological inspiration to a President whose faith has long underpinned his public and private lives.”

The best reason I can offer as to why their meeting together might be justified, is precisely because it is important that the most influential political leader in the world meet with the most influential religious leader in the world.

Pope Francis. He’s got the ear and admiration of President Joe Biden.  / Image by Annett_Klingner from Pixabay

Biden thanked His Holiness for his advocacy for the world’s poor and those suffering from hunger, conflict, and persecution,” the White House said. “He lauded Pope Francis’ leadership in fighting the climate crisis, as well as his advocacy to ensure the pandemic ends for everyone through vaccine sharing and an equitable global economic recovery.”

Are some people (particularly atheists and free thought advocates) going to get upset that their meeting represents a clear breach in the separation of church and state? Probably.

Still, their meeting just makes perfect sense. Despite all the negative effects of religion in our world, Christianity and its followers still perform a world of good deeds to alleviate human suffering. And there is no reason why the irreligious need to gripe about it.

Perhaps that day will come when the percentage of non-believers in the world becomes larger than the percentage of religionists. (As it stands today, the non-religious represent roughly 16% of the global population.) Perhaps only then, will humanists and other secularists be able to prove to the world that our values can also make the world a better place.

Personally, I look forward to that day, but it’s still far off in the future.

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About Scott R Stahlecker
Scott Stahlecker is a former minister, a member of the Clergy Project, and writes for Thinkadelics about the joys and benefits of living as a freethinker. He is the author of the novel Blind Guides, Picking Wings Off Butterflies and How to Escape Religion Guilt Free. You can read more about the author here.

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53 responses to “When the Two Most Powerful Catholics in the World Meet”

  1. Thank you. It’s such a breath of fresh air to finally see my fellow pro-choicers finally calling out the anti-choice monsters for controlling, dehumanizing abusers they really are.

  2. The pope is a foreign dignitary much like the queen of England or the prime minister of Canada.

    I bet Joe Biden speaks with far more vicious anti-choicers whenever he’s at work in the Oval Office.

  3. We may never know. I’ve always thought that presidents and other influential politicians are far less religious than they lead the public to believe. Like Trump raising the Bible, their words and actions speak far louder than their symbolic attempts at piety.

    I personally think Obama was a strong agnostic–if not an atheist.

  4. I think if you live in a variety of cultures with a variety of religions, you come to see that religion is a made-up thing.

  5. I just finished reading “A Thousands Splendid Suns” this morning. One of the main reasons I wanted to read this book was to better understand the Afghan people and their culture. I mention this, because you mentioned wanting to read it, and I wanted to give you a quick recommendation.

    I agree with your comment to an extent. Take the Afghan people. Like many in that part of the world they are fully immersed in their faith traditions. It’s because their way of life is very hard, and educational and traveling options for them are slim to. For many, religion is about the only thing they have to fall back on that provides them hope. Then take America. Here opportunities abound but religion is also rampant. But it seems to me that Americans have a much different commitment level to religion than the Afghan people might. Americans are far less loyal towards religions and can change churches at the drop of a hat.

    To your point, living in Asia and Germany really helped me to understand how made-up religion is.

  6. I always thought that Leonard Leo, the ultra-reactionary Catholic, who vetted the Federalist Society’s list of U.S. Supreme Court nominees was the most powerful Catholic. The Pope and Biden have not accomplished anything so far.

  7. Interesting point, and I’m not familiar with Leonard Leo. But it is often true that the people we don’t assume to be the most powerful can end up being the most powerful.

    Take Mitch McConnell, I happen to think he’s been the most influential republican in the last 5 years.

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