Gov. Greg Abbott turned down an invitation to attend Pope Francis’ appearance today in Juarez, the Mexican city across the border from El Paso. He cited a scheduling conflict. Today was the day he planned to formally swear in the new state education commissioner, Mike Morath.
Governors, of course, can change their schedules – if they want to. But Abbott didn’t, which may seem puzzling because he is a devout Catholic. But Austin American-Statesman editorial writer Tara Trower Doolittle offered an explanation.
“Although Francis’ visit to the United States last fall was met with rock star enthusiasm by the public, his reception by Republican leaders was more muted,” she wrote. “While Catholic theology and GOP ideology align on matters of abortion and gay marriage, the list of issues where they part ways is long: global warming, immigration, Syrian refugees, aid for the poor and the death penalty.”
And she added: “Francis has used his popularity and his pulpit to remind those in power of where the Church stands. Considering the fallout from Pope Francis’ visit last fall, maybe Abbott is wise to stay away.”
Yes, the governor may have avoided a papal tongue-lashing for a chance to brag about his new education pick.