Tag Archives: catholics

Pope backs opposition to Mexico’s gay-marriage proposal

Pope Francis recently voiced support for Mexican bishops and citizens opposing the government’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.

At his weekly Sunday blessing, Francis said he willingly joined their protest “in favor of family and life, which in these times require special pastoral and cultural attention around the world.”

Francis has opposed gay marriage and has railed against “gender ideology,” particularly as taught in schools.

But he rarely intervenes publicly in national debates, preferring to let local bishops take the lead.

Over the weekend, tens of thousands of people marched through Mexico City o in opposition to President Enrique Pena Nieto’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.

Organizers of the National Front for the Family estimated at least 215,000 people participated, and while that number could not be immediately confirmed, it was clearly one of the largest protest marches in Mexico in recent years.

Dressed mainly in white and carrying white balloons, the marchers held banners warning against same-sex marriage and demanding parents’ right to control sex education in schools.

“We are not against anybody’s (sexual) identity,” said Abraham Ledesma, an evangelical pastor who traveled from the border city of Reynosa, across the border from McAllen, Texas, to participate in Saturday’s march. “What we are against is the government imposition … of trying to impose gender ideology in education. As religious leaders, we don’t want to be forced to marry same-sex couples and call it marriage.”

Others carried signs saying “an adopted child deserves a mother and a father.”

On the other side of a police barricade separating the two sides at Mexico’s Independence Monument, a far smaller crowd of same-sex marriage supporters — perhaps a couple hundred — listened to music and speeches.

“They may be the majority,” said Felipe Quiroz, a gay activist and school teacher. “But just because they are the majority, doesn’t mean they can take rights away from minorities. That would lead us to a dark period, to fundamentalism.”

Many saw the massive march as the Roman Catholic church flexing its political muscle in a country where about 80 percent of people identify as nominally Catholic.

In May, Pena Nieto proposed legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

It is currently legal only in some places such as Mexico City, the northern state of Coahuila and Quintana Roo state on the Caribbean coast.

But in June, Pena Nieto’s party suffered unprecedented losses in midterm governorship elections, and his party has since put the proposal on the back burner in Congress.

Activists say opposition to same-sex marriage played a role.


Beer fans to get their bocks blessed

On March 8, Jim Klisch will once again don his monk’s habit and oversee the Blessing of the Bock, an annual event in which a Catholic priest — or in this case, someone dressed like one — imparts the grace of the Lord on the spring batch of bock beer.

This year’s blessing will be given at 6:30 p.m. at The Gig, a tavern located at 1132 E. Wright St. in Milwaukee’s Riverwest neighborhood. The penitent will have from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. to indulge in unlimited bock beer samples from more than a dozen breweries, for just $10.

Jim Klisch, who with brother Russ Klisch, is cofounder and co-owner of Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery, started the blessing ceremony in 1988, two years after his brewery opened. 

In previous years, the event was large enough to attract the services of ordained Catholic priests. It’s only been recently that the event has scaled back, forcing Klisch to develop the “habit habit.”

Although at first frivolous-seeming in a frat-boy sort of way, Klisch says the blessing is based on historical precedent. 

“Monks have a long history of brewing beer,” says Klisch, noting that Belgian Trappist monks still produce some of the world’s most compelling brews. “During the Lenten fast, that was all many of them would consume.”

According to tradition, 17th-century Catholic monks often gave up solid food in a 40-day fast as a Lenten sacrifice. In its place, the monks consumed only water and dopplebock, a “double bock” beer with a heavier malt bill to fill the belly and a higher alcoholic content to, we assume, provide balm for the soul.

The practice explains the now-common reference to beer as “liquid bread.” Given the monks’ other deprivations, one can hardy argue with that.

Hence the blessing, which comes from the Sancta Missa Rituale Romanum, a Roman Catholic checklist that includes a wide array of blessings for everyday objects. In addition to beer, there are blessings for lard, salt and oats for animals, fire engines, seismographs and other assorted items.

Bock beer, a strong German beer generally produced in the spring, deserves to be blessed. It was first developed by 14th-century brewers in the town of Einbeck, then adapted to the new style of lager brewing then popular in Munich. In their strong Bavarian accents, Munich citizens referred to the beer as ein bock, German for “billy goat.” The name stuck, as did the frequent image of goats on bock beer labels.

In addition to traditional bocks and dopplebocks, many brewers also produce maibocks, a Helles-style lager brewed to bock beer strength and served at spring festivals. Some German brewers also brewed eisbocks, produced by partially freezing a dopplebock and removing the excess water to concentrate both the flavors and the alcohol.

Bock and dopplebock beers weigh in at 7-9 percent alcohol by volume. Eisbocks, on the other hand, can carry as much as 13 percent ABV, and one brand, Schorschbrau, holds the current world’s record with an eisbock weighing in at 57 percent ABV. 

There likely won’t be any Schorschbrau on hand at this year’s blessing, according to “Whispering Jeff” Platt, head of the Riverwest Beer Appreciation Society and event coordinator. But bock beers from a host of local, regional and international brewers will be available for sampling.

At press time, the lineup contained traditional and innovative spins on the brand, including maibocks from Wisconsin Brewing Co., O’So Brewery, St. Francis Brewery, Sprecher Brewery and Capital Brewing Co. Bocks from Water Street Brewing Co., Milwaukee Brewing Co. and Potosi Brewery, and dopplebocks from Leinenkeugel’s and Andechs Brewing Co. also will be poured.

Klisch plans to have Lakefront maibock on hand for the faithful to try. He anticipates 50 to 75 participants for the event.

“This is designed to recognize the importance of bock beer to the Lenten season,” says Klisch. “It’s become a pretty laid-back event.”

If you choose to go, then go in peace. And bring a designated driver.

Traditional Catholic Beer Blessing

Priest: Our help is in the name of the Lord.

All: Who made heaven and earth.

Priest: The Lord be with you.

All: May He also be with you.

Priest: Let us pray.
Lord, bless this creature, beer, which by your kindness and power has been produced from kernels of grain and let it be a healthful drink for mankind. Grant whoever drinks it with thanksgiving to your holy name may find it a help in body and in soul; through Christ our Lord.

All: Amen.

— from the Sancta Missa Rituale Romanum


The annual Blessing of the Bock will be March 8 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at The Gig, 1132 E. Wright St., Milwaukee. Call 414-562-0219 for more details.

Most Americans believe in heaven and hell

About 72 percent of Americans say they believe in heaven, as defined as a place “where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded.”

This is according to Pew Research Center’s Religious Landscape Study.

The same study found that 58 percent of adults in the United States believe in hell, as defined as a place “where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished.”

Pew said the percentages haven’t changed much since 2007, when the question was last asked.

Pew said about 95 percent of Mormons and 93 percent of those affiliated with historically black Protestant denominations believe in heaven. About eight in 10 evangelical Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox Christians and mainline Protestants also say they believe.

About 89 percent of Muslims say they believe in heaven and 76 believe in hell.

Pew said roughly a third or less of Buddhists, Hindus and Jews believe in hell and half or fewer believe in heaven.

Among atheists and agnostics, about 37 percent believe in heaven and 27 percent believe in hell.

Pope to deliver 4 of 18 U.S. speeches in English, rest in Spanish

The Vatican says Pope Francis will deliver four out of his 18 speeches in the U.S. in English, using his native Spanish for the vast majority of his homilies, greetings and other speaking engagements in his three-city U.S. tour.

Francis has polished his English during recent trips to Asia, but the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that the Argentine pope simply finds it easier to express himself in Spanish. 

Francis will deliver an English speech at the White House and Congress and two greetings to U.N. staff and benefactors in Philadelphia.

Francis leaves Saturday for Cuba and arrives in the United States on Sept. 22 for a five-day visit.

Lombardi said a meeting with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana was “likely” but not scheduled yet.

Pope Francis’ audience to include some GOP candidates, but not Walker

To some Republican presidential candidates, it’s better to be with the popular pope than against him.

Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have deep policy differences with Pope Francis, but the senators will break off campaign travel to attend his address to Congress later this month, a centerpiece of his eagerly anticipated visit to the United States.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, a devout Catholic, will attend Mass with Francis in Washington. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, another Catholic candidate, plans to attend one of the pope’s East Coast events.

“Regardless of what the pope says or emphasizes, the simple fact of being associated with his visit is still significant for a candidate,” said David Campbell, a professor at the University of Notre Dame who studies religion and politics. “The images are very powerful.”

Francis has become one of the world’s most popular figures since his 2013 election to the papacy, drawing praise for his humility and efforts to refocus the church on the poor and needy. He also has become involved in numerous political issues, often staking out positions that put him at odds with Republicans.

The pope supports the Iran nuclear deal, which many GOP candidates pledge to tear up if they are elected president. As Republicans debate the place of immigrants in the U.S., the pope has urged countries to welcome those seeking refuge and has decried the “inhuman” conditions facing people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Francis was also instrumental in secret talks to restore diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, a rapprochement the GOP views as a premature reward for the island’s repressive government.

In a heated primary where any break from party orthodoxy is a political risk, Republican candidates have stepped gingerly around their differences with Francis.

When Francis issued an encyclical this year calling for aggressive international action to combat climate change, most Republicans made clear they had no problem with pope taking a position on the matter. But they suggested his stance would have little influence on their own views.

“He is a moral authority and as a moral authority is reminding us of our obligation to be good caretakers of the planet,” Rubio, a practicing Catholic, said at the time. “I’m a political leader and my job as a policymaker is to act in the common good.”

Bush, who was raised Episcopalian and converted to Catholicism as an adult, said it was best to leave climate change in the realm of politics, not religion.

During a campaign stop in New Hampshire, Bush called the pope an “amazing man” and welcomed his emphasis on mercy and compassion.

“I think he’s going to lift people’s spirits up,” Bush said about the pope’s visit to the U.S. “We’re in a time where there’s a lot of vulgarity and a lot of insults and a lot of just coarseness in our discourse. I’m not talking about politics, either. I’m talking about everyday life. 

“And here’s a man who comes with a gentle soul and I think it might be really healthy for our country to hear someone speak the way he does.”

Not all GOP candidates plan to attend events with the pope. Among them are Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, whose spokeswoman said he didn’t expect to be in Washington during Francis’ visit, and Rick Santorum, the former Pennsylvania senator and devout Catholic, who was scheduled to be on a campaign trip to Iowa. 

American politicians have long struggled with how to balance their policy positions with the views of the Vatican.

For Democrats, the focus has often been on the gulf between the party’s support for abortion rights and the church’s stern and contrary view. After John Kerry, a Catholic who backs abortion rights, captured the Democratic nomination in 2004, a top Vatican official issued a statement saying priests must deny Communion to politicians who hold that position.

Francis has taken a more conciliatory tone on abortion, as well as homosexuality, but hasn’t changed church doctrine.

President George W. Bush found himself at odds with the Vatican over the Iraq war. Both Pope John Paul II and his successor Benedict XVI vehemently opposed the war, yet each met Bush during their tenure.

Charles Camosy, a theology professor at Fordham University, said that in interactions between politicians and popes, “politics is put aside and there’s respect shown.”

Still, the timing of the pope’s visit — in the heart of fall primary campaigning — and his own schedule will make politics difficult to avoid.

Francis will hold an Oval Office meeting Sept. 23 with President Barack Obama, who has highlighted areas where his agenda overlaps with the pope’s priorities, including income inequality. The pope will speak the following day on Capitol Hill, where at least some of the focus will be on the reaction to his remarks from the presidential candidates sitting in the audience.

The pope’s message in Washington is expected to touch on some of the issues that are sources of disagreement with Republicans, though it’s unlikely he will insert himself directly into presidential politics.

Still, as Campbell, the Notre Dame professor, noted, “One thing we’ve learned about Pope Francis is that he’s very unpredictable.”

Ambassador to Vatican looks to pope’s U.S. visit

The U.S. ambassador to the Vatican said he expects Pope Francis will call on the U.S. to rediscover the fundamental values “that made our nation great” — especially its long history of welcoming foreigners — when he visits next month and becomes the first pope to address Congress.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Ambassador Kenneth Hackett said he expected migration, income inequality, family problems and the environment to be raised by Francis during his Sept. 22-27 visit to Washington, New York and Philadelphia.

History’s first Latin American pope will be making his first-ever trip to the U.S., where gay marriage is now the law of the land and where conservatives have cringed at his criticisms of the excesses of unbridled capitalism and largely ignored his calls for an urgent transition away from a fossil fuel-based economy.

“I’m not worried about the tense moments, really,” Hacket said. “In my two years here I’ve come to realize that Pope Francis will say and do what he wants. And that, people find refreshing even if they disagree with him.”

The disagreements — including in Congress and among Republican presidential candidates — have become more pointed since Francis released his economic-environmental manifesto “Praise Be,” in which he denounced the “structurally perverse” global financial system that he said has exploited the poor and destroyed God’s creation.

“I think he is mature in his ability to accept disagreement,” Hackett said. “In fact, it almost seems at times that he encourages it.”

Francis has spoken out strongly about the need for wealthy countries to “open doors” to migrants seeking a better life, and Hackett said that message is likely to have an impact in a country where Republican presidential contender Donald Trump has called for a massive border fence along the Mexican frontier and the deportation of some 11 million immigrants living there illegally. 

Hackett said he expected Francis would “bring people to think about the values that made our nation great,” and how Americans as individuals and a nation can recapture those values and make them more prominent.

“I think he’ll call us to continue to engage with it (the world), don’t throw any walls up around our nation, don’t revert to isolationism,” he said. “We are a nation of welcoming people, so that’s where I think he will put his attention.”

Hottest ticket in Washington is pope’s Sept. appearance at the Capitol

Rep. Peter Welch’s sister, Maureen, had better intelligence than the five-term Vermont congressman about Pope Francis’ upcoming trip to the United States and his historic address to Congress.

“She called before the announcement and said, ‘The pope is coming, can I have your ticket?”” recalled the Democratic lawmaker.

He eagerly said yes to Maureen — Sister Maureen, an Ursuline nun who has been a member of the order for 50 years.

While Welch’s decision was somewhat easy, other lawmakers are struggling with an extraordinary demand — from spouses, family, friends, constituents — for the one ticket they get for guests to sit in the upper galleries of the House chamber when the pontiff addresses Congress on Sept. 24. A chance to see and hear the 78-year-old Argentinian famed for making the comfortable uncomfortable is the hottest ticket in Washington.

“We have more requests for this appearance than anything anybody can ever recall around here,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky., said weeks ahead of the event.

The first time a pontiff will be addressing Congress rivals a presidential inauguration and State of the Union wrapped into one.

The president’s Cabinet, the diplomatic corps and members of the Supreme Court, six of whom are Catholic, are expected to join senators and House members in the seats on the floor of the chamber. The House recently took the unusual step of voting to limit the people who can sit in those prime seats, essentially barring former members.

That leaves the current 434 House members and 100 senators figuring out who to please with a gallery ticket and who they might upset. Whether a freshman on the job less than a year or a committee chairman with decades in office, lawmakers face the same rules as a State of the Union speech — one guest ticket per lawmaker.

“I’ve been thinking long and hard about that,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinoiw, the No. 2 Senate Democrat. “Turns out I know a couple of Catholics,” he said, laughing. “And this is a hard call.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, is giving her ticket to her mother, Pat, who headed Catholic Charities of Maine. Sen. Dan Coats, R-Indiana, said his choice “starts with family,” but he hasn’t decided yet.

Republican Rep. Leonard Lance, R-New Jersey, faces a nearly Solomonic choice straight out of the Old Testament.

“Either my wife (Heidi) or my twin brother (James), but I’m a very popular fellow these days because of that one ticket that I get,” Lance said.

Several spouses have already claimed the seats.

“My wife is getting my ticket,” Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Illinois., said of his wife Judy. “Even before I knew that the official announcement was made that the pope was coming to speak to a joint session of Congress, I received the email from my wife saying, ‘Don’t give my ticket away.””

Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said simply: “It’s not my seat, it’s my spouse’s seat,” a reference to his wife, Myrna.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-California, avoided picking one family member and disappointing several others.

“I gave it to a nun who I love — Sister Simone. She’s the nun on the bus,” Boxer said. “She fights for social justice and she’s so happy.”

Sister Simone Campbell is the executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice lobby, and is no stranger to Capitol Hill, lobbying on the 2010 law overhauling health care and immigration. In 2012, she organized the “Nuns on the Bus” tour of nine states to oppose Republican Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, which the group criticized as detrimental to the poor.

Ryan was the Republican vice presidential nominee that year.

The presence of nuns will be a reminder of the changes at the Vatican from Pope Francis’ predecessor, Benedict, to the current pontiff. Under Benedict, the main umbrella group of U.S. nuns had come under scrutiny, accused of straying from church teaching. The nuns oversee much of the church’s work at hospitals and schools, and the issue roiled the church in the United States.

Earlier this year, under Francis, the Vatican said that it was ending its overhaul of the group, a quick resolution widely seen as an effort to quiet a dispute ahead of the pope’s visit.

While lawmakers are limited to one gallery ticket, there is a consolation prize of sorts. Members of Congress can promise a few dozen more family, friends or associates a chance to see the Pontiff, just not in the House chamber.

Each congressional office can request one ticket for seats on the lower West Terrace of the Capitol. Jumbotrons will be set up on the West Front of the Capitol, facing the National Mall, so thousands can watch the broadcast of the pope’s speech. Francis is also expected to appear on the Capitol balcony after his speech.

Each lawmaker also can request 50 standing-room-only tickets for the West Lawn, plus one ticket for guests who can sit in the cavernous Cannon Caucus Room and watch the pontiff on TV.

Pope Francis’ popularity falls in U.S. but remains higher than most politicians’

Two months ahead of his first trip to the U.S., Pope Francis’ approval rating among Americans has plummeted, driven mostly by a decline among political conservatives and Roman Catholics, according to a new Gallup poll released this week.

Fifty-nine percent of Americans said this month they had a favorable view of the pope, compared to 76 percent in February 2014, Gallup reported. The share of Americans who disapproved of the pope increased from 9 percent to 16 percent in the same period. The changes were most dramatic among political conservatives, whose opinion of Francis nosedived by 27 percentage points to 45 percent. Among Catholics, Francis’ approval dropped by 18 percentage points to 71 percent.

The survey was conducted from July 8 to 12, three weeks after the pope released his bombshell teaching document proclaiming climate change largely man-made and excoriating an economic system he said drives global warming and exploits the poor. The survey of more than 1,000 adults had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

When the poll was under way, Francis, the first Latin American pope, was on a homecoming tour through South America that especially unsettled conservatives.

In his July 9 speech in Bolivia – an address that the Rev. Jim Martin, editor at large of the Jesuit magazine America, called Francis’ most revolutionary so far – the pope called for radical reform of the global economy and solidarity with the poor, while naming labor, lodging and land as “sacred rights.”

Mark Gray, polling director for the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, said the poll reflects that “many American Catholics are more closely affiliated with their political party than their faith.” Several Catholics competing for the Republican presidential nomination have criticized or distanced themselves from the pope over his role in the historic thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations and his insistence that unfettered capitalism has hurt the poorest and most vulnerable.

Catholic conservatives have also expressed discomfort with Francis’ style and emphasis. Carl Olson, editor of the conservative Catholic World Report, last week wrote that while he agreed with the pope’s criticisms of consumerism and overreliance on technology as a cure for society’s ills, Olson also found a “weariness” among some Catholics over the tone of many of Francis’ sermons and statements, which Olson described as often “haranguing, harping, exhorting, lecturing” and “grating.”

However, political liberals also appeared to have soured on Francis, with a 14 percentage point dip to 68 percent since last year. John Gehring, Catholic program director at Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy group in Washington, said, “some progressives naively expected him to overturn church teaching on abortion, contraception and same-sex marriage.”

Francis raised the hopes of gays and lesbians when he famously uttered, “Who am I to judge?” about gay priests, and said “we shouldn’t marginalize these people.” Francis has repeated his emphasis on being more open to gays and others, while also reaffirming church teaching on marriage and abortion, most recently in his ecology document, or encyclical, last month.

Gallup also found an increase in people who said they had no opinion about the pope or hadn’t heard of him, rising from 16 percent last year to 25 percent this month.

After his surge in overall popularity last year, the pope’s approval ratings are now back to the level they were soon after he was elected in 2013, according to Gallup. The Pew Research Center found a similar if less dramatic pattern, with a peak in Francis’ favorability at 70 percent this past February and a drop to 64 percent last month.

Francis is due to arrive in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 22, and will also travel to New York and Philadelphia. One of the most-watched events will be his Sept. 24 speech to a joint meeting of Congress, where Republicans have largely ignored his climate change encyclical. Francis added a Cuba leg onto the beginning of the trip, from Sept. 19-22.

Christopher Bellitto, a church historian at Kean University in New Jersey, said the decline from such a high-level of popularity was not surprising. “Who can sustain those numbers for that long?” Bellitto said.

“Whether liberal or conservative, you love the pope when he agrees with you,” Bellitto said. “And he’s been saying things that annoy both sides.”

Pope Francis’ call for action on climate change fails to move Republicans

Pope Francis’ call for dramatic action on climate change drew a round of shrugs from congressional Republicans, while a number of the party’s presidential candidates ignored it entirely.

“I don’t want to be disrespectful, but I don’t consider him an expert on environmental issues,” said Texas Rep. Joe Barton, a senior Republican on the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a comment echoed by others in his party.

Even Capitol Hill’s Catholic Republicans, despite their religion’s reverence for the holy father, seemed unmoved by his urgent plea to save the planet. The reactions suggested that the pontiff’s desire to translate his climate views into real action to combat greenhouse gases could fall flat, at least as far as the American political system is concerned.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, a Catholic who invited the pontiff to address Congress later this year, said the pope is not afraid to challenge thinking on various issues. “I respect his right to speak out on these important issues,” Boehner said, but he demurred when asked whether Francis’ views, made public in an encyclical released Thursday, might spur legislative action by the Republicans who run Congress.

“There’s a lot of bills out there. I’m not sure where in the process these bills may be,” Boehner said.

In the encyclical, a landmark foray by the Vatican into the area of environmental policy, Francis called for a bold cultural revolution, framing climate change as an urgent moral issue and blaming global warming on an unfair, fossil fuel-based industrial model that harms the poor most. He urged people of every faith to save God’s creation for future generations.

Francis is to address lawmakers in September in the first speech by a pope to Congress.

Francis enjoyed a 70 percent popularity rating in a poll by the Pew Research Center earlier this year; Congress, by contrast, routinely polls in the teens.

Yet despite his status as an exalted spiritual figure and leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, his pronouncements on climate were received much as a presidential address might be: with enthusiastic embraces from those who already agreed with him, and disavowals or silence from most everyone else.

President Barack Obama fell into the former category. “I welcome His Holiness Pope Francis’s encyclical, and deeply admire the pope’s decision to make the case – clearly, powerfully, and with the full moral authority of his position – for action on global climate change,” the president said in a statement.

The Republicans vying to replace Obama were not so full-throated. A number of them, including Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, did not respond to requests for comment or avoided answering when questioned by reporters on the topic.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush questioned the pope’s foray into climate science when discussing the issue Wednesday ahead of the encyclical’s release.

“I don’t think we should politicize our faith,” he said.

A statement from a spokesman for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry did not directly mention Francis but said, “Gov. Perry believes the climate is always changing, but it’s not clear what role humans have in it.”

And an aide to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio directed reporters to comments Rubio made earlier this year seeming to question the pope’s decision to weigh in on Cuba.

Rubio and Bush, who converted, both are Catholics, as are several other GOP White House hopefuls. Catholics also are overrepresented on Capitol Hill, accounting for about 30 percent of members of Congress, compared with 22 percent of American adults, according to Pew.

It’s not the first time the Catholic Church’s teachings on political or social issues have created complications for Catholic lawmakers who take a different view. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi of California, who is Catholic, faced questions in the run-up to passage of Obama’s health care bill over her support for abortion rights in light of the church’s opposition.

But with his entry into the contentious politics of climate, and his attempt to reframe the issue in moral terms, Francis opened a new chapter in the long-running debate over the intersection of politics and religion.

And it was one that most Republicans did not particularly welcome.

“I think the pope needs to continue to study this,” said Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. “I think it will be given respectful treatment, but I don’t think it’s going to change a lot of votes.”

Poll: Two-thirds expect Supreme Court to legalize gay marriage nationwide

A new survey finds broad popular support for same-sex marriage in the United States and strong expectations that the U.S. Supreme Court will rule to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

The survey finds, overall, that 55 percent of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, while 37 oppose.

Even more Americans — 65 percent — believe the U.S. Supreme Court will rule to legalize same-sex marriage later this month.

The Public Religion Research Institute conducted the survey of 1,009 adults from June 3-7 to measure public opinion on same-sex marriage, the upcoming Supreme Court decision, nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBT Americans, the acceptability of small business owners refusing services on religious grounds and the amount of discrimination faced by LGBT people in the United States.

“As national opinion has shifted toward support for LGBT rights, including among religious Americans, white evangelical Protestants are increasingly becoming an island of opposition amidst a sea of acceptance,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “Today, white evangelical support remains below the level of support from a decade ago in the general public, and they are also less likely than other religious groups to acknowledge that LGBT Americans face discrimination.”

The issue of same-sex marriage continues to divide religious Americans. Majorities of religiously unaffiliated Americans, white mainline Protestants and Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry.

Conversely, only 29 percent of white evangelical Protestants and 35 percent of non-white Protestants support making same-sex marriage legal. Majorities of white evangelical Protestants and non-white Protestants oppose same-sex marriage.

The poll also showed: More than six in 10 Americans say transgender people and gay and lesbian people face a lot of discrimination in American society.

These numbers are down from February 2014, when roughly seven in 10 Americans said they believed LGT people. Majorities of every faith group except white evangelical Protestants say transgender people face a lot of discrimination: non-white Protestants (53 percent), white mainline Protestants (60 percent), Catholics (68 percent) and the religiously unaffiliated (72 percent). Less than half (49 percent) of white evangelical Protestants believe that transgender people face a lot of discrimination, while 37 percent say that they do not.

“Republicans see the world faced by gay, lesbian and transgender Americans quite differently than Democrats and independents do,” said Daniel Cox, research director of Public Religion Research Institute. “Republicans are far more likely to doubt that LGBT Americans face a lot of discrimination in the United States and are much less likely to support efforts to address it.”

Three quarters of Democrats (75 percent) and 61 percent of independents say that there is a lot of discrimination against transgender people in American society. By contrast, half of Republicans agree and 39 percent say that transgender people do not face a lot of discrimination.

Nearly seven in ten Americans — including 65 percent of Republicans and 60 percent of white evangelical Protestants — favor laws that would protect LGBT people against discrimination in jobs, public accommodations and housing.

In addition, 60 percent of Americans oppose allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people, even if it violates their religious beliefs. This opposition includes 64 percent of Catholics, 63 percent of non-white Protestants and 59 percent of white mainline Protestants.

In contrast, a majority of white evangelical Protestants support allowing small business owners to refuse service to gay and lesbian people on religious grounds.

There also is a significant generation gap on the issues. Young adults, age 18 to 29, are the strongest supporters of same-sex marriage — 72 percent favor legalizing same-sex marriage. Young people are much more likely than older Americans to believe that gay, lesbian and transgender people face a lot of discrimination. Young people are also much more likely than seniors to say they have a close friend or family who is LGBT.