“Francis hits into a major political whirlwind”

The US Congress is deeply divided. This is emphasized by the head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Washington, Dr. Lars Hansel. In an interview with our site he talks about the importance of the Pope's congress speech.

Interviewer: The small Fiat 500 followed the Secret Service's heavy SUVs. Some call it provocation, others call it authenticity. In any case, it goes down quite well with the Americans, or?

Dr. Lars Hansel (Head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Washington): That can be said in any case. The Pope received a very warm and very friendly, even enthusiastic welcome from many, many Americans. And the fact that he arrived in such a small car was very well received by many and was considered very authentic.

Interviewer: Today, Francis will then become the first pope to address the U.S. Congress in Washington. What do the US media think? Positive?

Hansel: In any case, it is seen very positively. On the one hand, it is a success of John Boehner, Speaker of the House of Representatives, who invited the Pope – Boehner himself is also a Catholic. But of course it is also seen as a success for Barack Obama, who agrees with the pope on many ies.

Interviewer: The pope has always said that he does not want to be taken over. Do you have the feeling that in the USA there are camps that would also like to win him over, perhaps in order to make election campaigns??

Hansel: First of all, of course, you have to see that the pope is not coming into a vacuum of politics here, but on the one hand he is meeting a situation where the presidential campaign is now beginning. But he will also meet a Congress, before which he will then speak, which is deeply divided. And I do believe that the Democrats and the Republicans both agree with the Pope in certain parts, and of course they emphasize what unites them with the Pope. For Democrats, that's primarily climate policy, of course, which he addressed, but also ies of social justice and equality. It's also opening up to Cuba – after all, he's just from Cuba. While the traditional family image is particularly well received by Republicans, although there are of course restrictions there as well. There are also critics who see the pope as too flexible. But the ies of religious freedom, stance against abortion, stem cell research and so on – Republicans also have a whole range of ies on which they agree with the pope. And the question today will be, of course, how they hear the speech. Whether to put on the ideological filter in each case or to hear the whole message, from both sides. So the pope is really hitting into a major political whirlwind here.

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