The Pope's Lunch

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 The Papal Fiat/ Reuters photo. On front, street art in Italy

Fulfilling his role as "a walking, talking parable," Pope Francis will blow off Congressional leaders Thursday to have lunch with 300 of D.C.'s homeless, thus seeking to make real his vision of "a church in the streets." The gesture comes after a host of speeches and actions that have conservative heads spinning, from visiting Cuba to blasting economic inequality and the "God of money" to suggesting churches that fail to help the needy and refugees should lose their tax-exempt status. His focus on climate change has prompted some of the most bizarre responses from right-wing deniers: His Eminence is choosing “to act and talk like a leftist politician,” is "enamored with solutions that are not pro-American," is indulging in paganism because "what is environmentalism but nature worship?" and besides, "fossil fuels are good for the poor and the Earth.” To make matters worse, the two Holy Chairs awaiting him here in the richest country in the world were made by, respectively, prison inmates and immigrant day laborers.

Arriving here, he wasted no time again afflicting the comfortable. He began his first speech with, "I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families." Then he urged the building of "a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive." Then he cited the urgency of climate change as "a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our 'common home', we are living at a critical moment of history." Then, to prove his point, he climbed into the back of his little, gas-efficient Fiat. And today, after what's expected to be a climate-change-themed speech before Congress, he will leave Boehner and Pelosi behind to help serve lunch to 300 homeless people outside St. Patrick’s Church as part of Catholic Charities' St. Maria's Meals. Of course that one meal, that one gesture, doesn't wipe out the many sins of the Church - against women, marriage equality, sexual abuse victims, a host of social issues. But it's something, a start, a modest moral guidepost. Luke 14:13: "When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed."

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