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Rome Reports

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Pope Francis: A liberal, conservative or neither?

Is Pope Francis a liberal, conservative, or neither?  With the Pope's upcoming visit to the U.S. it seems that is the question being asked by media pundits, conservative Catholics and everyone in between.  MICHAEL DRIESSEN  Prof. John Cabot University (Italy) "Thereâ??s gonna be a lot of spin. A lot of media hype and a lot of political implications.â? Professor Michael Driessen specializes in religion and politics at Rome's John Cabot University. He says that even though the Pope is primarily a religious figure and not a political one, he will inevitably address divisive issues in the political arena. Everything from economics and immigration, to abortion and climate change.  MICHAEL DRIESSEN  Prof. John Cabot University (Italy) "He is going to have to speak to those divisions within the United Statesâ?? society, and I think heâ??ll find a way to do that...Itâ??s no surprise that a Pope is simultaneously very critical of free market capitalism and its effect on inequality and at the same time has a very robust defense of things like marriage, Catholic schools and praying the rosary.â? Despite the inevitable media hype, Prof. Driessen says Americans can look back to Benedict XVI's visit in 2008, when the pontiff was considered too conservative. Now, he says, it seems like the opposite situation is taking place.  MICHAEL DRIESSEN  Prof. John Cabot University (Italy) "Pope Benedict came, the speaker of the house was a Catholic, but she was a liberal Catholic who was pro-choice, so a lot of people made a big deal about, Nancy Pelosi...the Pope is gonna tell her off...this is going to be a big scandal.  At the end of the day, all the liberal Catholics lined up, they could not wait to meet Benedict.â?  The Pope and the Church, he says, can't be limited to one political category. At the end of the day, he believes Americans will set their personal and political agenda on the back burner.  MICHAEL DRIESSEN  Prof. John Cabot University (Italy) "I think people are going to let aside their political left or rightness on his visit and really just take him in, I think.â?  Americans will listen to what the Pope has to say, not as a liberal or a conservative figure, but as the head of the Catholic Church.  KLH  MG -  -PR Up ATO