Pope Francis Evandro Inetti/ZumaPress

Pope Francis in America

The moral authority that Pope Francis exudes makes his interventions in controversial contemporary issues extremely powerful. Before and during his visit to the US, his views on three issues – none of which is without controversy in the US – will have a particularly strong impact.

LONDON – It’s a dollar to a cent that Pope Francis’s visit to the United States in September will be one of the biggest news stories of 2015. Take the sheer number of American Catholics, add the diplomatic skill of the Vatican’s purple-and-scarlet-clad officials, then throw in Francis’s powerful statements on a variety of subjects – often antagonizing America’s right wing in the process – and you have all the ingredients of an epic event.

Start with the diplomats. Vatican officials catch their share of criticism, not least from Francis himself. But their ranks include intelligent top-rank officials – led by the Pope’s chief adviser, Cardinal Pietro Parolin – who are experienced at working quietly for peace and social justice in some of the most perilous parts of the world.

When such smart diplomacy is put at the service of an appealing and influential Pope, not to mention the 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, the result is an engine for doing good that is more formidable than anything the world has seen for some time.

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