TIME Religion

The Top 4 Misconceptions About Pope Francis

Vatican Pope
Gregorio Borgia—AP Pope Francis, wearing a red scarf, has a light moment as he leaves St. Peter's Square at the Vatican after an audience with with Altar boys and girls, Aug. 4, 2015.

Christopher Hale is executive director at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial.

What you think you know about Pope Francis is probably wrong

The Public Religion Research Institution released a wide-ranging study this week measuring the American Catholics’ thoughts about the Catholic Church, American politics, and Pope Francis. One number stood out—almost 40% of American Catholics mistakenly believe that Pope Francis supports gay marriage. Under his leadership, the church has become more welcoming to the LGBT community, but it has not changed course on marriage.

Time and again, through a mix of media folklore, religious illiteracy, and political peddling, an incorrect portrait of Pope Francis appears. Here are the top four myths we should debunk once and for all before the famous Argentinean pontiff crosses the Atlantic to visit the U.S. next month.

1. Pope Francis isn’t a Democrat (or a Republican).

Playing political football with the pope is a tradition as old as the office itself. From ancient Roman emperors to Renaissance English monarchs to modern-day Congressmen, politicians have long have used the pope to push ideological agendas. Under Francis’s predecessor Benedict XVI, many political actors in the U.S. tried to suggest that the German pope’s opposition to gay marriage and abortion meant that his priorities and those of the Catholic Church lined up neatly with the Republican Party. One prominent conservative Catholic commentator even went as far to argue that Benedict didn’t really believe his own scathing 2009 critique of the global economy.

Sadly, many Democrats have tried to do the same with Francis. In September 2013, Slate’s William Saletan wrote an essay entitled “Pope Francis is a liberal.” Saletan’s piece followed Francis’s interview with Jesuit publications in which he argued that the Church shouldn’t become “obsessed” with abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception. The same day the interview was published Pope Francis denounced abortion as a part of the “throwaway culture.”

Francis is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. The politics of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church don’t fit well in either major American political party. His expected critique of radical individualism in front of Congress next month is expected to push back on the short-sighted priorities of both.

2. He isn’t a Marxist, a Communist, or a Socialist, either.

The absurd suggestions that Pope Francis follows the ideologies of Karl Marx first gain steam in the U.S. in November 2013 when Rush Limbaugh said that Pope Francis “doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism.” ​Suggesting that​ ​others ha​d​ “gotten” to Francis, Limbaugh claimed that Francis was preaching “pure Marxism​.​” Religious scholar Re​za Aslan​ had a simple reply: “​Somebody did get to P​​ope Francis. It was Jesus.” ​The pope himself responded a few weeks later: ​“The Marxist ideology is wrong. But I have met many Marxists in my life who are good people, so I don’t feel offended​.​”

3. Nor is he necessarily an animal lover.

Last December, the New York Times ran a story that claimed Pope Francis had told a distraught boy that his recently deceased pet would earn a place in heaven. A few days later the paper had to retract most of the viral story. Though the pope took the name of Saint Francis, the patron saint of animals and creation, he certainly doesn’t favor pets over people, as the Times implied. ​In fact, Francis has criticized couples who have chosen to have summer homes and pets over children.

4. Also not a heretic.

New York Times’ columnist Ross Douthat suggested recently that Francis might be flirting with heresy and leading the Catholic Church towards the precipice of a schism. It’s a strange day when pundits are openly questioning the Catholic bonafides of the canonically elected Vicar of Jesus Christ. Francis seems to be at peace with all the hoopla regarding his orthodoxy: “I’m a loyal son of the Church.”

A loyal son, a misunderstood radical, and a prophet denouncing the excesses of contemporary society? Francis sure sounds a lot like Jesus. Then again, I guess that’s the point.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Religion

Vatican Official, Charged With Sexual Abuse, Dies

Jozef Wesolowski
Manuel Diaz—AP This March 15, 2013 file photo shows Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, papal nuncio for the Dominican Republic.

The ex-envoy had been due to go on trial in a Vatican tribunal on July 11, but he was hospitalized on the morning of the hearing

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic, who had been charged by church prosecutors with sexually abusing children in the Caribbean country, died Friday of apparent natural causes as he awaited trial, the Vatican said.

Jozef Wesolowski, 67, was found dead early Friday in the Vatican room where he has been held on house arrest, a statement from the Vatican said.

Vatican officials immediately intervened and initial checks “indicated that the death was from natural causes,” a press statement said.

It said the Vatican prosecutor ordered an immediate autopsy and that Pope Francis was informed.

Wesolowski had been due to go on trial in a Vatican tribunal on July 11 for allegedly causing grave psychological harm to victims and possessing an enormous quantity of child pornography. But on the morning of the hearing, he was hospitalized in intensive care because of an unidentified “sudden illness.” No new trial date was made public and the presiding judge had adjourned the trial indefinitely.

Wesolowski was previously defrocked under the Vatican’s canon law procedures but was facing possible jail time if convicted in its civil tribunal.

The trial had been seen as a high-profile way for Francis to make good on pledges to punish high-ranking churchmen involved in sex abuse of minors, either by molesting children or by systematically covering up for priests who did. Recent changes to the Vatican legal code under Francis’ leadership allowed prosecutors to broaden their case against Wesolowski.

Charges included possession of what prosecutors described as enormous quantities of child pornography on his two computers, including after Wesolowski was recalled to the Vatican in 2013 following the emergence of rumors that he sexually abused shoeshine boys near the waterfront in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic.

Wesolowski was the first such high-ranking Vatican prelate to be criminally charged at the Holy See for sexually abusing minors.

The case was particularly delicate because Wesolowski wasn’t just another priest, but rather a direct representative of the pope and had been ordained as a priest and bishop by his fellow Pole, St. John Paul II.

TIME Religion

Marriage Equality’s ‘Reign of Terror’ Is in the Past—Not the Present

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz waits to be introduced at his Religious Liberty Rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 21, 2015.
Scott Olson—Getty Images Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz waits to be introduced at his Religious Liberty Rally in Des Moines, Iowa, on Aug. 21, 2015.

David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute and author of 'The Libertarian Mind.'

Words like 'hatred' and 'persecution' reveal historical amnesia

At the Iowa State Fair last Friday, actress Ellen Page challenged presidential candidate Ted Cruz about discrimination against gay and transgender people. Instead of directly answering her question, Cruz responded, “Well, what we’re seeing right now, we’re seeing Bible-believing Christians being persecuted for living according to their faith.” That evening at a “Rally for Religious Freedom,” he introduced several “heroes” whom he described as “victims of government persecution” who “have endured the attacks” for refusing to provide services for a gay wedding.

He’s not the only one. Religious right organizer David Lane, who has escorted numerous Republican presidential candidates—including Cruz—to meetings with pastors, wrote in March, “What does concern me is the reign of terror, now becoming old hat, that [homosexuals] impose on anyone who will not celebrate their sexual lifestyle.”

“Persecution.” “Reign of terror.” Strong language indeed.

I don’t think anyone should be forced to supply flowers, cakes, photography, or a venue for a wedding that conflicts with their religious faith. Marriage equality is right and proper in a country that intends to treat everyone equally under the law, but there’s no need to force every mom-and-pop baker into the gay wedding business—or force them out of business with crippling fines.

But terms like hatred, persecution, and reign of terror to describe this issue reveal a lot of historical amnesia. Laws making homosexual acts illegal have been on the books in America since the 1600s. In the early 20th century and again in the 1950s the laws were actually strengthened. By the middle of the century, in most states conviction for sodomy meant as many as 15 years in prison. In California, a conviction could result in life imprisonment.

Although the sodomy laws were rarely enforced directly, they justified many other forms of discrimination and oppression. As William Eskridge wrote in his book Dishonorable Passions, “Sodomy laws sanctioned police harassment of gay people and their hangouts, the discharge of homosexuals from public as well as private employment, official refusals to protect gay people when victimized by assaults and other crimes, and deprivation of custody over or even contact with their children.” In many states, it was illegal to serve alcohol to homosexuals, or for homosexuals to dance together. In 1966 New York City arrested more than 100 men a week for such crimes.

The law combined with social opprobrium to keep many gay people in the closet, living a lonely underground life. Arrest or being outed could mean the loss of a job, a family, or even a life. Many committed suicide in response to such pressures.

That was a reign of terror.

Today’s unjust but hopefully temporary wave of fines against small business owners pales in comparison.

In fact, I’m reminded of what Mark Twain wrote about the “Reign of Terror” after the French Revolution:

There were two “Reigns of Terror,” if we would but remember it and consider it; the one wrought murder in hot passion, the other in heartless cold blood; the one lasted mere months, the other had lasted a thousand years; the one inflicted death upon ten thousand persons, the other upon a hundred millions; but our shudders are all for the “horrors” of the minor Terror, the momentary Terror….All France could hardly contain the coffins filled by that older and real Terror—that unspeakably bitter and awful Terror which none of us has been taught to see in its vastness or pity as it deserves.

The solution to injustice is never to reverse the injustice. The long oppression of gay Americans does not justify reverse discrimination or forced participation in gay weddings. But conservatives should have a little humility in the language they use about injustices that are far less onerous than the hatred, persecution, and attacks that persisted for far too long in America.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME faith

Mormon Church Will Keep Affiliation With Boy Scouts Despite Decision on Gay Leaders

Salt Lake Temple utah mormon
Rick Bowmer—AP Flowers bloom in front of the Salt Lake Temple on Aug. 4, 2015, at Temple Square, in Salt Lake City.

The church was assured they can appoint troop leaders according to their own religious and moral values

(SALT LAKE CITY) — The Mormon church — the nation’s largest sponsor of Boy Scout units — is keeping its longtime affiliation with the organization despite its decision to allow gay troop leaders.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the decision Wednesday in a news release. Church leaders decided to stay with Boy Scouts after getting assurances they can appoint troop leaders according to their own religious and moral values.

Boy Scouts of America announced on July 28 it would lift its ban on gay adult leaders while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to continue excluding gay adults.

The Mormon religion, with 15 million members, has softened its tone on gays in recent years but still opposes gay marriage and believes homosexual activity is a sin.

TIME Books

See a Page From a Gutenberg Bible in Close-Up

The bibles were first printed in 1456

It’s hard to pin down the exact day the book was born, but August 24 is as fine a day to celebrate as any: it was on this day in 1456 that at least one copy of the original Gutenberg Bible was completed. You can zoom in on a page from that milestone text by rolling over it with your cursor (on your phone? Just click). This is Jerome’s epistle to Paulinus, which serves as the prologue to the Bible:

Print Collector-Getty Images

Because the colorful decorations were done by hand, each of the copies—about four dozen of which have survived intact, out of nearly 200—is slightly different, even though the actual text was printed with the same type.

As TIME explained in 1999, when it named Johann Gutenberg the most important person of the 15th century, non-European printers had figured out the idea of moveable type first—but dealing with more than 26 or so letter characters made it less efficient. Printing in Europe, meanwhile, was usually done by carving into a block of wood, which meant that once the printing form was made, you were stuck with it permanently. Having the idea of casting each letter separately and just moving them around wasn’t the only stumbling block for Gutenberg—he needed to find the metal that melted at the right temperature, he needed to find ink that wouldn’t smudge, he needed to design the press part of the machine—but it was a start.

Exactly what happened between his grand idea and the emergence of the first full Gutenberg Bible—like, for example, whether Gutenberg himself actually printed it—remains something of a mystery. But it was enough to get his name printed, as it were, in history:

By the time he was back in Mainz in 1448, Gutenberg had ironed out enough of these problems to persuade Johann Fust, a goldsmith and lawyer, to invest heavily in his new printing shop. Exactly what happened behind Gutenberg’s closed doors during the next few years remains unknown. But in 1455 visitors to the Frankfurt Trade Fair reported having seen sections of a Latin Bible with two columns of 42 lines each printed–printed–on each page. The completed book appeared about a year later; it did not bear its printer’s name, but it eventually became known as the Gutenberg Bible.

Read more about Gutenberg and others, here in the TIME Vault: The Most Important People of the Millennium

TIME Religion

Pope Francis Surprises Worshippers by Joining Them for Mass

Pope Francis Meets President Of  Cuba Raul Castro
Franco Origlia—Getty Images Pope Francis arrives for a private audience in Vatican City, Vatican on May 10, 2015

The Pope took a seat in the pews at St. Peter's Basilica

(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis, who encourages prelates to get closer to rank-and-file Catholics, has practiced what he preaches, taking a place early among surprised faithful in a front-row pew in St. Peter’s Basilica for Mass.

The pope’s presence at an early morning Mass a day earlier was completely impromptu, a Vatican spokesman said Saturday.

The spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said the Mass was celebrated Friday at an altar, near the entrance of the basilica and dedicated to St. Pope Pius X. When it was time to receive Communion, Benedettini said, the pope lined up along with the other faithful.

Francis arrived in the basilica without an escort and unannounced to pray, then stayed for Mass, Benedettini said.

Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano said some 70 people were attending Mass when it began. When others in the basilica noticed the pope, attendance grew, the paper said, without saying just how many.

TIME faith

Meet the Worshipers at America’s Busiest Airport Mosque

Ramadan Eid JFK Airport
Tanya Basu Worshippers gather after breaking their Ramadan fast at the JFK International Airport mosque in the Queens borough of New York City on July 14, 2015.

The mosque at JFK Airport is more than just a prayer space—it's a community

Correction appended, Aug. 21, 2015

Several times a day, Essam Matwaoy leaves his job arranging luggage on EgyptAir planes at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. He makes his way through the cacophony of Terminal 4—past the endlessly ringing phones and maze of snaking lines and Babel-like hum of languages—toward a silent corridor where he finds something that is rare in an American airport: a mosque.

“I come here all the time,” he told TIME at the JFK International Islamic Center recently. “When it’s time to pray, my co-workers even tell me, ‘Essam, it’s time to pray—go to the mosque!'”

The mosque, a maroon-carpeted room where an imam leads daily prayers, is one of only seven Muslim prayer spaces in America’s largest airports, according to a recent Pew Research Center report—and it’s the busiest in the country, according to the International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains. While Pew found that religious chapels are becoming more common in the nation’s airports, many are multipurpose interfaith spaces that transform to house services for several different religions. Much rarer, at least outside of the U.S., is a room in an airport that is dedicated as a mosque around the clock.

“It’s the only mosque of its kind in the country,” said Ahmet Yuceturk, the imam at the JFK International Islamic Center and a chaplain with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs New York City’s airports. “It’s its own mosque, not just a room, which is what most airport mosques are,” Yuceturk continued. “We are our own place, we have our own services, we are our own community within the chapels here. It’s very different from anything in America.”

The mosque holds services five times daily, welcoming Muslims of all backgrounds and beliefs, whether they are New Yorkers who work in the airport or travelers who are stopping to pray in between flights. Depending on the time of day and whether there is a holiday like Ramadan, attendance ranges from just a few people to a crowd of more than 50 spilling out into the hallway; usually about three-quarters are airline passengers while the rest are local workers. In addition to holding services, the mosque doubles as a community center, offering Arabic lessons, Koran discussions and communal meals—along with an occasional wedding.

The mosque also provides aid to passengers who are lost or stranded, in keeping with the Muslim belief in the value of helping strangers.

“We just tell the congregation that there is a traveler, because a traveler has a very big status within Islam,” Yuceturk said. “When someone is stuck when they’re traveling, we need to help them out, regardless of their faith. Whoever comes to us, and if we see that they’re sincere, and if they’re in a tough situation, we do our best as a community to gather some money, put them on a bus, put them on a flight…whatever is doable.”

The JFK International Islamic Center is part of a larger chapels area at JFK’s Terminal 4, which was built in 1955 to house a general Christian place of worship. It was remodeled in 1966 to include Catholic, Protestant and Jewish prayer spaces, and in 2001 a separate multifaith room was built to meet rising demand for a prayer space for the terminal’s Muslim, Hindu and Sikh travelers and workers, nearly a decade after the United American Muslim Association first proposed the idea. Services were intermittent and run by volunteers at first, but when Yuceturk joined as the prayer space’s first full-time imam in 2008, the room became a full-fledged mosque. Since then attendance has risen steadily, with Muslim airport workers spreading the word.

One of the busiest times of year for the mosque is Ramadan. On one of the last days of the month-long holiday this summer, Matwaoy, the EgyptAir load coordinator, watched for the sun to dip below the horizon, then let his sonorous voice fill the mosque’s air, signaling the end of the daily fast. A group of worshipers—some dressed casually for travel, others wearing a traditional long caftan—popped dates in their mouths, the first food they had eaten since sunrise, and then lined up in rows and prayed.

After the prayers, the group broke into happy conversation, as Yaya Dosso, a limo driver originally from the Ivory Coast, took a moment before returning to his shift to slap his friends playfully on the back, calling the congregants “my second family.”

“My wife gets upset,” he said. “I always break fast here.”

Like Dosso, many JFK airport workers and local cab drivers said they stop by the mosque on breaks, and even on their days off.

“This place is my second home,” said Roshana Shoma, 23, a customer service agent for Etihad Airways, as she ate lentils after the mosque’s prayers. “I come here all the time. It’s very comfortable for us. If the mosque weren’t here, we wouldn’t be able to pray.”

Father Chris Piasta—a Catholic chaplain at JFK and LaGuardia airports, who is also a spokesman for the International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains, the governing body for airport chapels around the world—said he has never seen a mosque like JFK International Islamic Center in his travels across America’s air transport hubs.

“What we have at JFK is rather unusual compared to other airports,” Piasta said. He hopes to bring more diversity to the largely Christian prayer spaces in airports across the country. In October, the aviation chaplains association will convene in New York to discuss “bringing the world together” through their work, Piasta said.

“We are trying to be open to everybody,” Piasta said. “We have to answer a broad, important question: How can we serve people who are different from ourselves?”

Yuceturk, the imam, sees the JFK mosque as an opportunity to contradict stereotypes about Islam.

“When you look at politics or you look around the world, a lot of negative things are being said about Islam,” Yuceturk said. “But we’re not representing anyone…. We are just regular Muslims. We have no political agenda. We’re just living our lives, earning our living for our families.

“This is how we act. This is who we are.”

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of the mosque. It is the JFK International Islamic Center.

TIME Religion

The Problem With Disinviting Jewish Rapper Matisyahu From a Concert in Spain

Singer Matisyahu performs at the official opening ceremony of the European Maccabi Games at the Waldbuehne in Berlin on July 28, 2015.
Sean Gallup—Getty Images Singer Matisyahu performs at the official opening ceremony of the European Maccabi Games at the Waldbuehne in Berlin on July 28, 2015.

David Wolpe is the Max Webb Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

Why I'm scared a wave of anti-Semitism is sweeping across Europe

In his monumental work The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain, Benzion Netanyahu, the father of the current Israeli prime minister, argued that anti-Semitism changed during the Spanish Inquisition. Jews were not targeted because they had different beliefs — those who adopted Christianity were targeted, too. The hatred against them was racial. Just being Jewish made you different. In that malevolent way, Spain anticipated Nazi Germany.

How far we have not come. The Jewish-American rapper Matisyahu was recently disinvited from a concert in Spain because he would not sign a statement endorsing a Palestinian state. Matisyahu is not a citizen of Israel. He does not vote in its elections or create its policy. This was not a statement of belief but an unfairness based on the fact that Matisyahu is a Jew.

Matisyahu responded on Facebook: “Honestly it was appalling and offensive, that as the one publicly Jewish-American artist scheduled for the festival they were trying to coerce me into political statements.”

As I’ve written before, the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement increasingly shows that it has deep roots not in political opinion, but in hatred of and unfairness toward Jews. People who insist that artists sign political statements or who boycott them are people who have learned nothing from the 20th century. They are petty tyrants clothing themselves in a faux compassion that gives their lust for power the garb of respectability.

The wave of anti-Semitism sweeping across Europe and Latin America has become undeniable and increasingly frightening. A recent Anti-Defamation League survey found anti-Semitic levels across Europe — including in Spain — at “disturbingly high levels.” On a recent trip to Argentina, I listened to young people who were looking for a way out. The bombing of a Jewish center and the subsequent evasions and untruths that culminated in the murder of the Jewish prosecutor had convinced them that shadows would never lift from the community.

Netanyahu penned his history for the same reason that he raised his children — Jonathan, the slain leader of the Entebbe hostage rescue raid, and Benjamin, the prime minister of Israel — to love the land of Israel. Netanyahu saw from his studies that hatred is recalcitrant and does not seem to disappear. We have seen people singling out Jews for different treatment before, and it does not end with oaths. “Loyalty” oaths are despicable, but they are only the beginning. They are the first exercise of something far more pernicious.

It is not a great loss to Matisyahu that he will not appear at the week-long festival in Valencia. The loss to Spain is far greater. Perhaps Spanish students do study history, but some of them still seem doomed to repeat its mistakes.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Television

John Oliver Becomes a Televangelist and Finally Starts His Own Church

The satirical aim of Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption will be to collect copious, tax-exempt donations

John Oliver is officially a church.

Upon finding out about mega-churches like those led by Kenneth Copeland and Robert Tilton, which earn millions of dollars every year but are exempt from paying taxes, Last Week Tonight host John Oliver did the only logical thing—he formed his own church. Specifically, he formed, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption.

With a little help from Sister Wanda Jo Oliver, played by former Saturday Night Live star Rachel Dratch, Oliver’s church will collect copious donations while encouraging congregants to silently meditate on the nature of fraudulent churches.

To aid his followers in making their donations, Oliver delivered his ministrations right through the TV screen asking viewers with lupus to lay their hands on their television and pray with him—and then donate to his church.

The church looks to be completely real with services held every Sunday at 11pm on HBO and, naturally, donation boxes always open.

Those who choose to donate to Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption should be sure to read the fine print, though, which says that the church “may choose to wind down and dissolve in the near future. Upon dissolution, any assets belonging to the Church at that time will be distributed to Doctors Without Borders, a non-profit charitable organization that is tax-exempt under § 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (EIN: 13-3433452) and which provides emergency medical aid in places where it is needed most.”

For more information, Pastor Oliver encouraged his most devout and devoted viewers to call a special number to hear a message for the masses:

Read next: Watch John Oliver Conscript Nick Offerman, Laverne Cox and Others For a Sex Ed Video

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TIME Religion

Jeb Bush Should Say ‘No’ to Torture

Republican presidential candidate former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a forum sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa on Aug. 13, 2015.
Charlie Neibergall—AP Republican presidential candidate former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush speaks during a forum sponsored by Americans for Peace, Prosperity and Security at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa on Aug. 13, 2015.

Christopher Hale is executive director at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial.

This is an issue that transcends politics

On Thursday, Jeb Bush refused to rule out the practice of torture if he were elected president. This was a departure from his remarks earlier this year when he said that his brother George W. Bush’s torture program was no longer necessary.

Bush’s indication that he would be open to using torture puts the 62-year-old Catholic convert at odds with Pope Francis, who has called for the universal abolition of torture, which he says is a “very grave sin.”

This isn’t Bush’s first public disagreement with Francis this summer. In June he said that Francis shouldn’t get too involved in the global climate change discussion because it risked politicizing religion. “I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home,” Bush said about Francis’s groundbreaking June 19 climate change encyclical letter. “But I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope.” (Bush sang from a different hymnal just six years earlier: “As a public leader, one’s faith should guide you.”)

Bush’s disagreement with Francis on climate change wasn’t surprising, but his dissent on torture is. Bush has built much of his political career around his pro-life bonafides. Most notable was his decision to intervene in the case of Terri Schiavo, a Florida woman whose final years in a vegetative state stirred up a national conversation about the rights of persons who are incapacitated and when and how their lives should end if they leave behind no directives. At the time, Bush called the Schiavo case “the toughest issue” in his political career and one that “transcends politics and policies.”

Couldn’t one say the same of torture?

Bush should consider the words of Arizona Senator John McCain last December, who was a victim of torture during his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam:

I know the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies, our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights, which are protected by international conventions the U.S. not only joined, but for the most part authored. … This question isn’t about our enemies; it’s about us. It’s about who we were, who we are and who we aspire to be. It’s about how we represent ourselves to the world…. Our enemies act without conscience. We must not.

Conscience. This explains why Barack Obama banned forms of interrogation torture in 2009. And this must be the reason that Jeb Bush says ‘no’ to the practice today.

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us to love our enemies and to pray for those who persecute us. In a post-9/11 world where violence, terrorism, and war run rampant, such ideas perhaps seem a bit Pollyannaish.

So if that doesn’t compel Bush to reconsider, perhaps this does: Torture doesn’t work. As a man who promises to take Washington “out of the business of causing problems,” surely he can see continuing a ban on the ineffective and immoral practice of torture is a perfect way to help fulfill that lofty ideal.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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