John Boehner abruptly and unexpectedly stepped down as Speaker of the House yesterday. Why? Because he was tired of fighting the right-wing fanatics who have taken over the GOP, and who are bringing down the party. However, the breaking point came Thursday after Boehner met with Pope Francis, and then listened to his speech before Congress. In reference to stepping down, Boehner has made the following statements:
The pope, he comes up the steps right there. …When he gets here, there are all of these kids he is going to bless. … So the pope put his arm around my left arm… and he says to me, ‘Please pray for me.’ Please pray for me. He said, ‘Please pray for me.’
Just yesterday we witnessed the awesome sight of Pope Francis addressing the greatest legislative body in the world. And I hope we will all heed his call to live by the golden rule. But last night, I started to think about this. And this morning, I woke up and I said my prayers, as I always do, and I decided, you know, today’s the day I’m going to do this. [I’m going to quit politics].
As Boehner (a long-time Catholic) sat directly behind Pope Francis during his speech, Boehner began to openly weep as the Pope spoke about the true message of Catholicism, and the obligations that an American politician has as a “servant.”
Pope Francis implored Congress to stop their warmonger mentality, hatred, bigotry, and unwillingness to help those in need:
A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject. Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice.
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Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money – money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.
. . .
We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us.
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Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics.
Even President Obama acknowledged the potential influence Pope Francis had on Boehner:
[P]erhaps the visit by the Holy Father to Congress may have changed hearts and minds. I know that Speaker Boehner was deeply moved by his encounter with Pope Francis. I want to congratulate him, by the way, on facilitating that historic visit. I know it meant a lot to John and his family.
Pope Francis’ message was the final straw in Boehner’s internal conflict continuing to fight for the current hate-filled GOP, and their unwillingness to compromise on issues important to America as a whole. The Tea Party mentality has taken over. On CBS Face the Nation on Sunday, Boehner stated: “I think it [the Pope’s visit] helped clear the picture. I never related one of those instances with the other, but clearly by Friday night it was pretty obvious to me.”
Unfortunately, for Progressives, Boehner’s departure actually will be a setback. Boehner had a least some control in preventing the Tea Party mentality from completely taking over the GOP, and his resignation will leave the GOP in a more chaotic state. Bernie Sanders stated the following regarding Boehner’s departure: “It appears that even a very conservative speaker like John Boehner is unable to control the extreme right-wing drift of Republicans in the House. Without Boehner, it may get even worse.”
This unexpected political move definitely will have an impact on current status-quo.