Whilst the estimated 68.1 million Catholics in the US will be eagerly anticipating Pope Francis' first papal visit to the US next week, some Republican politicians will be less excited about the visit of one of the world's most popular and influential leaders. Pope Francis begins a 10-day tour of Cuba and the US today – with the papal entourage set to touch-down in Washington on Tuesday.
The 78-year-old Argentinian concedes that the US is largely unknown to him, and has spent the summer swatting up on the country he will visit for the first time. Yet Francis will become the first pope to address the US Congress during his visit – as well as the United Nations – and this is just too much to take for some US politicians.
The socialist pope
The Pope, a Jesuit influenced by the ascetic life of St Francis of Assisi, has expressed a strong anticapitalist ideology in the past that does not sit well with some in the GOP. He once described capitalism as, "an economic system that imposes a profit mentality at any cost, to the detriment of the poor".
He was also quoted by The Atlantic as saying: "We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose."
Back in June, former Florida governor Jeb Bush expressed his displeasure that the views of His Holiness were so forthcoming. He said, "I don't get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinal or my pope. I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm," according to the Guardian.
During the Pope's trip he will be offering a show of solidarity with Cubans and making clear that Hispanics in the US's 195 dioceses are the bedrock of Catholicism in the region. But he is also set to address more than 100 world leaders at the United Nations in New York on Friday, with climate change set to dominate his agenda.
The campaigning pope
His stance on the subject, in which he has slammed climate change deniers, has also been criticised by Bush and another republican, Paul Gosar, who has decided to boycott the UN address. The Arizona Republican said on Town Hall: "At this pivotal moment in world history, his Holiness, Pope Francis, is intending to spend the majority of his time on one of the world's greatest stages focusing on climate change.
"If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend," added Gosar. Pope Francis will take in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia whilst in the states.
Pope Francis is adored by many Cubans who praise him for his integral role in reconnecting the nation with the US. He issued a personal appeal to Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro last year to end 50 years of animosity, and later secretly hosted the Cuban and US delegations to finalise the deal according to Beaumont Enterprise.
The Pope has acknowledged that his trip the US may not go smoothly. On Twitter, he asked for the support and prayers of his supporters.