Weekend Roundup: Where Pope Francis and Xi Jinping Cross Paths

Pope Francis and President Xi Jinping were both in Washington and New York this week for engagements at the White House and the United Nations. They didn’t meet. But their paths certainly crossed. The pope made the moral case for tackling poverty and climate change. President Xi affirmed he will intensify the “reform and opening up” policies that have lifted 500 million people in China out of poverty over the last 30 years — a feat accomplished more rapidly than any other society in history. And, as the leader of the world’s second-largest economy, he pledged to join forces with the U.S. and others to spearhead the global battle against climate change.

Francis’ detractors may call him a “communist in a cassock” while Xi’s party is Communist in name only, but this alliance of purpose that pairs the prayers of the pope with the formidable state capacity of China could actually move the big needle.

Paul Vallely, one of the pope’s most sympathetic biographers, writes that Pope Francis has “switched the focus of the Catholic Church away from a high-profile fight against abortion and gay marriage and onto a mission to serve the poor and extend mercy to all. He is far more concerned with issues related to money than to sex.” Writing from Rome, Piero Schiavazzi marvels at the pope’s “diplomatic triple backflip” — meetings with the liberal American president, the predominantly conservative U.S. Congress and the U.N. General Assembly in the space of a few days. Massimo Faggioli outlines the challenges the Argentine pontiff faces in converting the American body politic, as well as his own Catholic flock, to his view of the world. Religious scholar Jack Miles sees in the —> Read More