Don’t want to get your hands ‘dirty’ in politics? The Pope just called you Pontius Pilate


What could be a stronger take down then the time Jesus called Peter ‘Satan?’ Perhaps it was when Jesus said of Judas: “It would have been better for him if he had never been born.”

Chilling those words.

But close to Satan and Judas Iscariot has to be comparing someone to Pontius Pilate. And that’s just what Pope Francis did recently.

The Pope was scheduled to give a prepared speech to 9,000 students, alumni, and teachers from Jesuit-run schools in Italy and Albania. But he asked the crowd if he should ditch the prepared speech. a resounding “Yes!” burst from the audience. So he touched on the highlights of his speech and opened himself up for questions.

Now Pope Benedict XVI used to answer questions, too. But they were submitted in advance and his answers were always top-rate. After all, is there a better theological mind than Benedict? But there’s something refreshing about Pope Francis’ answers. They are spontaneous and his answers don’t sound like they come from a professor, but from a priest. (That’s not an insult to Benedict, who I love very dearly.)

Francis answered a question about why he isn’t living in the Papal apartments. “It’s not just a question of wealth. [It] is not that luxurious, don’t worry.” He just couldn’t live so isolated and alone; he prefers living in community, closer to other priests.

Well, one adult asked the Pope if Catholics have “an obligation to get involved in politics.”

His answer, courtesy of Catholic News Service, shows us that non-involvement in politics is not an option:

“We can’t play the role of Pontius Pilate and wash our hands of it,” he said. “Politics is one of the highest forms of charity because it seeks the common good.”

He said those who complain that politics is “too dirty” should ask themselves why. Perhaps it’s “because Christians haven’t gotten involved with an evangelical spirit.”

It’s easy to blame others, he said, but people need to ask themselves: “Me? What am I doing” about it?

Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff remarks remind me of my one of my favorite speeches by President Ronald Reagan. It was his “Evil Empire” speech. He was speaking to a group of evangelical ministers about the evil imperialist ambitions of the atheistic Soviet Union. Reagan pushed back on the nuclear freeze crowd, who tended to treat the Soviet Union and the United States like moral equals — as if they were brothers engaged in a mindless quarrel.

“I urge you to beware the temptation of pride — the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”

Yes, politics can be trite. Yes, politics can be nasty. And that provides us with the opportunity to make it better. 

We have a duty to stand up for the defenseless unborn child whose very life is in danger. We must defend our Catholic schools from a federal government which wants to force the school to pay for abortion drugs. We must stand strong for the principle that children deserve to be raised by a mother and a father.

There are other injustices to address: how big business and big government collude to squeeze small businesses and the rest of us, how a government-run school system refuses to allow poor people to escape, how government saps initiative with its culture of dependency, etc etc.

The answer to all these problems is not to throw your hands up, declare that there’s sin all around, and then go back to your couch and watch television.

Do something about it!

Running for office is one option. If there are not enough good Christians in office making decisions which involve the dignity of the human person, then the answer is to get more honorable men and men into office, right? So: Look in the mirror.

Is running for office not in the cards for you and your family?

Well, then help others who are good and virtuous to run for office. See, that’s where the Candidate Fund comes in. We look over the landscape to find honorable men and women who are willing to take the jump and enter the arena. These are the people who are willing to run for office and stand up for life, marriage, and religious liberty.

And we claim that we want more men and women to take that risk and run for office defending these bedrock principles, right?

But what if they run for office and there’s no one there to support them because Christians have said, “Oh, politics is dirty and destructive. I’m done with it.”

Let those words never come from our lips.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Joshua Mercer is a co-founder of, where he serves as Political Director. Mercer is also regular contributor with Catholic Pulse. Mercer previously served as Washington Correspondent for the National Catholic Register and Chairman for Students for Life of America. He lives in Michigan with his wife and six children.

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