WASHINGTON — Republican presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee offered words of praise and support for the Roman Catholic pontiff known as Francis this week as he landed in the United States for a six-day visit.
On Wednesday, a piece penned by Cruz was featured in The Federalist lauding that “[i]n an era when many global leaders are descending to relativism, Pope Francis continues to proclaim the truth.” He extolled the religious leader for his positions on life, family and the persecuted.
“[T]his week presents an historic and a hopeful moment for the nation. Pope Francis is visiting the United States. In stark contrast to media elites and national leaders smothering the truth of life, marriage, and religious liberty, Pope Francis has unabashedly stood for these primary gifts to humanity,” he wrote.
Cruz opined that media outlets would seek to distract the American public “with anything they can to make the pope’s visit divisive.”
“Indeed, there are policy discussions to be had on issues like the environment and U.S. relations with communist countries such as Cuba. These distinctions are important, but let us not forget what we have in common and what this leader of the Church brings to America as a gift to us—his care for the family and his heart of mercy for the most vulnerable,” he stated.
Cruz also expressed his desire for the pontiff to serve as an inspiration to Americans.
“In this Year of Mercy, may Pope Francis’s example inspire us to treat all with charity, pray for those who are persecuted, and speak out for those without a voice,” he said. “It is an honor to meet a man who has lived the faith so selflessly. I thank Pope Francis for his service to God and to the world, and I hope during his visit we are each reminded of our call to see every person with the eyes of Christ.”
On Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee chastised Barack Obama for including open homosexuals on his guest list for the pope while likewise speaking favorably of the Roman Catholic pontiff.
“Bring the best and most faithful Catholics you can—people who would give their right arm to be able to meet his holiness,” he told Fox’s Megyn Kelly. “I’m not Catholic, but I have great respect for the Catholic Church and for the pope, and when he comes to America, it’s only fitting that we put out the very best kind of welcome possible…”
When Kelly asked Huckabee if Obama might be seeking to present an opportunity to expose Francis to different views, Huckabee said a summit would be a better setting for such a desire, but even then it would still be questionable.
“I’m not sure that President Obama needs to school and lecture Pope Francis on Catholic doctrine and why he’s wrong. Last time, I checked, it’s the pope who is supposed to lecture Christians, not the other way around,” Huckabee continued. “Unless Obama now has decided that he really has a greater depth of theology and a better understanding of Scripture than the pope himself…”
Last year, Huckabee joked to reporters that “[m]aybe we should run the pope for president.”
But in a post this week asking whether the pope should be “praised or exposed,” Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries said that it is dangerous to extol those who preach false doctrine.
“Instead of praising him this week, we should be exposing the pope for being a pawn of the devil. Some may think I am unloving and harsh for saying this but the truth must be told for the sake of those who are being deceived,” he wrote. “The gospel the apostles preached was salvation by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone according to Scripture alone for the glory of God alone. The pope’s gospel is salvation by sacraments, good works, law keeping and participating in the offering of a false Christ on Catholic altars.”
Gendron, a former Roman Catholic who now leads an evangelistic ministry to reach Catholics, said he hoped Christians would use the pontiff’s visit to preach the truth of God’s word.
“I have great compassion for the precious Catholic souls who are where I was for many years of my life—believing I was in the one true Church, but unknowing deceived and destined for the eternal fires of Hell,” he said. “The nature of deception is that people do not know they are deceived until they are confronted with the truth. It is my prayer that every blood bought Christian will faithfully proclaim the true gospel to Catholics this week.”