Couldn't we somehow declare Pope Francis an American citizen, say (just a little white lie) that he was born in the desert in a remote village in Nevada, and then run him for president in a huge write-in campaign? We could explain (another little white lie) that he is fluent in Spanish and Italian because he was reared by a lady from Argentina and a man from Italy, both immigrants, and that's why he's so halting in English.
It took the pope, a Catholic priest with his roots in Argentina, to remind members of Congress and Americans in general what this country is all about.
"You are the face of the people, their representatives," he told the members, "You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good."
The "common good." What a wonderful notion. It is, in fact, a very old Christian tenet, going all the way back to the Fourth Century and the Epistle of Barnabas. "Do not live entirely isolated, having retreated into yourselves ... but gather instead to seek together the common good."
Good advice then, good advice now.
Pope Francis had more to say. "Politics," he said, is "an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build at once the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests ... I do not understand the difficulty this involves, but I encourage you in this effort."
This, of course, is a Congress torn by partisan bickering and, in the case of 30 or more Republican members of the House, paranoid delusions. These members don't believe in the common good – that would mean compromise with the man so many think was born in Africa and worships as a Muslim and doesn't deserve to be president. They have no intention of "living as one."
The pope had barely finished talking to the members when the embattled Republican speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, announced he was stepping down at the end of October. He said it was for the good of the institution, meaning the House. That comes first, he said. No, his critics would (or should) say, the common good, the country itself, comes first. The pope understands that. It's past time members of Congress took to heart that ancient lesson so beautifully expressed by Pope Francis in his glorious visit to America.
James M. Perry, a prominent veteran political reporter, contributes regular observations to post-gazette.com. Mr. Perry was the chief political correspondent of The Wall Street Journal until his retirement. Prior to that, he covered national politics for the Dow Jones weekly, The National Observer.