Pope Francis today suggested to reporters during an airborne press conference that he is not a left-winger.
“Some people might say some things [I said] sounded slightly more leftish, but that would be a mistake of interpretation,” the Pope said to journalists, according to Time.
But he also suggested that his support for left-wing economic interventions, and his support for traditional Catholic religious doctrine, transcend current definitions of left-wing and right-wing preference.
On economic issues, “It is I who follows the church … my doctrine on all this … on economic imperialism, is that of the social doctrine of the church,” he continued. “I’m sure that I have not said anything more than what is in the social doctrine of the church.”
But on religious issues, “If you want me to pray the [traditional Catholic] creed, I’m willing to do it.”
Pope Francis gave a press conference on board his plane. Speaking in Spanish and Italian, he responded to the question about his liberal image while traveling from Cuba to Washington, D.C.
As Time notes:
His corrective about his ideology is a significant prelude to his arrival in the U.S., as the Democratic Party has increasingly attempted to claim Francis as their policy champion over the past few months. The White House put out a memo months ago outlining the topics of shared interest that President Obama would discuss with the Pope, including immigration and climate change. Conservatives in Congress, meantime, have recently started pushing back against their perceptions of the Pope as someone who is pushing a liberal agenda.
Asked what he will say in his address to Congress Thursday, Pope Francis said he will speak generally about “bilateral relations and multinational relations as a sign of progress and coexistence.”
The Pope said he will not discuss the Cuba embargo, which, he added, is negotiated between Cuba and the United States.
“I am almost sure that that embargo is not mentioned in the speech…No, no certain it is not,” he said. “Both presidents have referred to this. My desire is that they end up with a good result, that they reach an accord that says satisfies both sides, an accord, certainly.”
Pope Francis told journalists that, originally, he had hoped to enter the United States by crossing the border from Mexico, but the route would have left him unable to visit the Virgin of Guadalupe in Mexico City – which, he said, would have been an insult to Mexico.