Papal ambivalence? Not really; he's just plain negative about Americans.

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 20, 2016

John Allen has an interesting piece on the Crux site today, in which he remarks that Pope Francis shows "a distinct ambivalence about the United States and about Americans." 

However if you read the piece-- which is informed, reasoned, and generally convincing, as usual with Allen's work—you'll have trouble detecting any actual evidence of ambivalence. Allen sees lots of negatives in the Pope's attitude toward the US; he doesn't mention any real positives. 

And by the way it's mutual. Allen notes that "the most overt blowback [Francis has] faces since his election, both inside and outside the Church, has stemmed from the United States." 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: unum - May. 26, 2016 7:45 AM ET USA

    Papal negativity, or just a lack of understanding based on cultural differences? I find many South Americans get their knickers in a bind when I ask about their three tiered society with the small aristocratic "royalty", including those in government, business, and the Church), the relatively small middle class (educated workers), and the majority of the population comprised of the poor (uneducated workers). Yet, they are quick to criticize U.S. capitalism giving opportunity to all classes.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - May. 21, 2016 1:29 PM ET USA

    Pope Francis should transcend positive and negative feelings about nations. He is the vicar of Christ on earth, after all. John Allen, and others, observe Pope Francis holding on to the petty anti-American attitudes common in Argentina. It is a human flaw.

  • Posted by: Reuben Slife - May. 20, 2016 5:51 PM ET USA

    I don't know. Unless one thinks that all the nice things he said when he visited were insincere, his view can't be purely negative. And Allen probably assumed Americans had heard that stuff, so it didn't need mentioning. (As an American, too, I can say that we can be pretty dislikable. We tend to think we're God's gift to the world, "the last best hope of earth." And pragmatism is the only native American philosophy! As much as I like this place, I can't blame a guy for being suspicious of us.)

  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - May. 20, 2016 5:42 PM ET USA

    The Pope is Argentinian. Latin Americans in general are quite resentful of the USA (usually hostility is against the country, not the people). As a Latin American myself I am , too. Theres much good that comes from America but there just seem to be so much more bad (abortion, gender theory, race politics, tv, Hollywood, Corporations, cia Black ops).

  • Posted by: Gil125 - May. 20, 2016 3:26 PM ET USA

    Your comment does complete Allen's piece. If I were his editor I would have handed his copy back and said, "John: I don't see any ambivalence in this. Does he have anything good to say about the USA, or does he flat-out hate us? Either give me a positive example or change the word 'ambivalence.'" I might have added, "And I'll meet you at the Rusty Scupper for an adult beverage at five."