Campaign finance reformers, rejoice! The Pope is in your corner.
Pope Francis recently weighed in on the influence of money in politics, and in yet another surprisingly liberal move, endorsed public financing of campaigns.
“We must achieve a free sort of election campaign, not financed,” the Pope told Argentine magazine Crux. “Because many interests come into play in financing of an election campaign and then they ask you to pay back. So, the election campaign should be independent from anyone who may finance it.”
“Perhaps public financing would allow for me, the citizen, to know that I’m financing each candidate with a given amount of money,” he said.
Pope Francis was weighing in on the upcoming elections in his home country of Argentina, but his comments rang true for activists here in the U.S.
Fred Wertheimer, president of campaign finance reform group Democracy 21, said his movement has “gained a great new ally with a worldwide voice for public financing of campaigns.”
“When concerns about the role of money in politics are being raised by the Pope, we know that this issue has enormous reach and currency and that those who people do not care about campaign finance issues are just plain wrong,” he said.
It’s the latest in a series of unexpected pronouncements from the Pope that have shaken up the Catholic Church and occasionally put him at odds with more traditional observers of the faith. Pope Francis has also expressed an openness to homosexuality and birth control, and will release an encyclical on climate change in the coming months.
His forays into controversial political topics are certain to add intrigue to the Pope’s address to a joint session of Congress next fall.