Will the Pope's Policies Aggravate Separation of Church and State Issues?
WASHINGTON, D.C. —
In America, Pope Francis remains more popular than the president and congress with a new survey showing 67 percent of Americans hold a favorable view of the pope.
But one grassroots group believes Pope Francis is damaging one of America's great pillars the separation of church and state.
Pope Francis, only a-year-and-a-half into his papacy is already among the most outspoken pontiffs in history.
"This is our home, it's being ruined," said Pope Francis.
Not one to quiver from lightning rod political issues, Francis is using his pulpit to take on climate change.
Casting blame on human activity, tweeting earlier this summer there's "a great challenge: to stop ruining the garden which god has entrusted to us so that all may enjoy it."
He's also been very vocal about immigration saying "people and institutions" who close their doors to asylum seekers should ask god for forgiveness.
"He's making some conservatives uncomfortable and he's making some liberals uncomfortable and that's probably a good place for the successor of St. Peter to be," said Chad Peckenhold, Associate Professor at The Catholic University of America.
His ideological messages are clearly getting under the skin of some in Washington and those who aim to be.
"I don't get economic policy from my bishops or from my cardinals or from my pope," said Jeb Bush, Presidential candidate.
Is Pope Francis spending too much time on politics instead of leading a worldwide a religion like the universal church?
"He's a world leader a world faith leader, not just in spirituality, but morality and ethics," said Representative Patrick McHenry.
"I'm a very strong believer in separation of Church and State, but I don't see a contradiction with inviting a leader of a religious tradition, a religious faith to talk about issues of universal importance," said Representative Chris Van Hollen.
The reverend Barry Lynn has some grave doubts about Francis' upcoming speech before a joint session of congress. A first for a religious leader who serves as a head of state.
"We have got in both major political parties people who fundamentally don't understand why the separation of church and state is good for the state and it's good for the church as well," said Barry Lynn, Executive Director Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
"While in America we have separation of church and state we have never had separation of God and state," said Peckenhold.