Love the Prisoner, Ban the Substance: Pope Francis and the War on Drugs
Pope Francis has been embraced by progressives in the English-speaking world for his anti-capitalist rhetoric, even as his position on the War on Drugs is at odds with their commitments. By the same token, his support for criminalization does not completely align with conservative arguments. As such, Francis’s third way provides a useful alternative to the binary in American politics. However, the legitimacy of this third way is being challenged by strong arm rulers who use the War on Drugs to terrorize their population, such as President Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines. Natural law arguments would provide a much stronger restraint on abusive policies, but that is not Francis’ approach. Rather than condemn brutal policies, Pope Francis focuses on building a people. Will that distinction survive the pope’s association with authoritarian rulers?