After Pope Francis moved to recognize a Palestinian state, some gung-ho defenders of Israel suggested the pontiff should stick to preaching and stay out of politics.
“It’s interesting how the Vatican has gotten so political when ultimately the Vatican ought to be working to lead people to Jesus Christ and salvation, and that’s what the Church is supposed to do,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), a hawkish defender of Israel.
It wasn’t just Duncan. Several House conservatives seemed exasperated that Francis, who will address Congress this fall, approved the Vatican’s recognition of Palestine as a state. On Wednesday, critics said Rome needs to leave the question of Palestinian statehood to be sorted out in the Middle East.
“I’m disappointed,” Duncan added. “Now the Pope is legitimizing a Palestinian state without requiring those who get recognition to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.”
Others were frustrated that the pontiff would recognize a place that’s an avowed enemy of a U.S. ally like Israel.
“I’m surprised that the pope would recognize Palestine when they’re still haters who want to eliminate Israel off the map and don’t recognize Israel,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), a member of the Israel Allies Caucus. “The Pope is the head of his religion, and he makes those calls for himself, but I represent 700,000 people from East Texas and a vast majority agree with me.”