Pope’s visit offers voters opportunity to reflect on church and state

Pope Francis driving south on 5th Avenue in the popemobile during his trip to New York City, NY and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (Photo: Associated Press)

Pope Francis driving south on 5th Avenue in the popemobile during his trip to New York City, NY and visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (Photo: Associated Press)

Pope Francis visited New York on Friday and delivered remarks to the United Nations, chiding leading nations “charged with the conduct of international affairs” for allowing “wars and conflicts” to persist through political inaction.    

Those words came ahead of a speech the pope gave to Congress on Thursday where he chided nations of the world for supporting the global arms trade.

“Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society?” he asked. “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.”

An area of contention among conservatives, many feel the pope has been too liberal in some of the comments he’s made and stances taken on various social issues. The pontiff gave U.S. voters the opportunity to reflect on their preferences regarding religion and politics.

When asked if it was appropriate for local religious leaders, like parish priests, ministers, rabbis or imams, to suggest who one should vote for, some 75 percent of likely U.S. voters said no, according to results of a Rasmussen survey released Friday.

Voters were split on whether they thought religious leaders have too much influence over U.S. government policy. Thirty-two percent of those polled felt that was the case and just as many felt the opposite – that religious leaders don’t have enough influence over policy.

Only 28 percent said the level of influence was just right, Rasmussen said.

It was the regular church, synagogue or mosque-goers who said religious leaders don’t have enough political influence, but even 62 percent of them felt it wasn’t appropriate for their religious leaders to endorse political candidates.