While he prefers to associate with the poor and marginalized, Pope Francis has shown up on a list of the powerful and elite.
Politico Magazine ranked the Argentine-born Catholic leader No. 6 on its “The Politico 50” list, dubbing him “Washington’s Favorite Populist.”
Even though he is uncomfortable speaking English, and has yet to visit the United States, the article cites the pope’s influence in American political life.
“Last December, when President Obama was drafting a major speech on income inequality, he sent it back to his speechwriter, asking for a quote from Pope Francis, who had just released a 224-page statement attacking ‘trickle-down’ economics and warning against the ‘new tyranny’ of unfettered capitalism,” it says.
The article suggests that riding the pope’s coattails might be more useful than any politician’s this November.
“At 63 percent, the pope’s approval rating among Americans is roughly 20 points higher than Obama’s. What better ally for the president and his new agenda than the most influential populist in the world?” it asked.
The pope’s words have been used by Catholic politicians on both the left and right to add some divine inspiration to their causes, though conservative members of Congress reportedly blocked a trivial resolution congratulating the pope on his election because of what they see as his liberal positions on the economy.
The pope is expected to visit the United States next September for a meeting on the family in Philadelphia. He is also considering invitations to address the United Nations in New York, as well as an address to Congress, which would be a papal first. His invitation came in a rare show of bipartisanship from Speaker of the House John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, both Catholics.
Other high-profile Catholics on Politico’s list include Supreme Court justices Samuel Alito and Sonia Sotomayor and former vice-presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan, who has cited the pope as he launches a new campaign against poverty.