Pope’s ambassador: Pope Francis is ‘not a politician’
© Owen Eagan

Pope Francis’s ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, defined the papal message as above politics, commented on the pope’s hopes for U.S. immigration policymakers and questioned partisanship in American government on Monday.

“But, you know, he’s not a politician,” Pierre said of the pope to a crowd of about 200 people at Georgetown University.

Pierre, whose official title is papal, or apostolic, nuncio, explained that the pope’s role as a spiritual leader is different from leadership positions in other organizations because his focus is essentially evangelical and religious.

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He said it’s the pope’s wish for all Catholics in the U.S. to allow Catholic social teachings such as respecting others to be part of their decision-making — including for politicians deciding matters like immigration policy.

“And the pope is actually asking us, especially, you know, the members of the church, you know, to reflect in the action in what they think, you know, the respect of the people ... you know, the immigrants are people.”

Some commentators hailed Francis’s appointment of Pierre to the U.S. ambassador post in April 2016 as a signal that might encourage a more friendly U.S. policy toward immigrants.

Referring to partisanship in U.S. politics, Pierre said that ideology distracts people from a larger, spiritual goal.

“The pope does not want us to become ideological. We are not servants of ideology; we are disciples,” Pierre said.

Also speaking at the event was Kenneth Hackett, former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See under the Obama administration. 

To show the pope’s sway in the international sphere, Hackett called to attention his role in the 2016 deal ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba.