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Pope Francis' U.S. Visit Begins Tuesday

"U.S. Catholics can learn from the struggles of mainline Protestants: don't go wobbly on doctrine and distinct identity." -- IRD President Mark Tooley

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 cell, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2015 /Christian Newswire/ -- Pope Francis begins his six-day tour of the United States on Tuesday with planned stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. In Washington, Francis will meet with President Barack Obama at the White House and holds the first-ever canonization Mass on U.S. soil for 25,000 ticket holders at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The U.S. Congress will welcome the Pope in a joint session on Wednesday before his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Friday and meeting with the triennial World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "U.S. Catholics can learn from the struggles of mainline Protestants: don't go wobbly on doctrine and distinct identity. Catholicism can only grow by being enthusiastically Roman Catholic. A watered down church is an inconsequential church that is boring even to the people who supposedly like diluted religion.

    "Liberal Protestant elites like the Pope's social statements about economics and the environment and his sometimes seeming openness to amending traditional church teaching. But ultimately they can't fully embrace him because he will uphold church teaching on human sexuality, which is the main cultural issue for liberal Protestants.

    "We share Pope Francis' passion for the Gospel, including the orthodox understanding of marriage and family, and his stand against abortion, euthanasia and other secularist assaults on the sacredness of human life.

    "As to politics, it's not clear if he fully appreciates that the greatest material hope for the world's poor is for continued global economic growth, not failed redistributionist policies that perpetuate poverty and foster oppression."

    "There's so much confusion among Christians of all stripes about God's vocation for government. The Catholic Church has a very rich tradition on this topic that is much needed right now. Too many Christians see government and politics as salvific. But the state was ordained by God for much more limited purposes, primarily to protect the public order, including the church's work."