What Does Pope Francis Have to Hide?

Pope Francis

As troubling as it is to have leadership in the White House insisting it’s so above the fray that it must learn from the news (just like you and me, kids!) when serious allegations of improper behavior by government entities is occurring, this latest “mea culpa because I just didn’t know” is kind of fun. For Catholics, anyway:

In light of a recent report, Senator Rand Paul (R., Ky.) fears the National Security Agency may be spying on President Barack Obama. “They could well be spying on the president, for all I know,” Paul says, in an interview with National Review Online. “He has a cell phone, and, in fact, my guess is that they have collected data on the president’s phone.”

Paul also believes the federal government may be tracking Pope Francis. “The most important question we need to ask the NSA is, ‘Are you telling us you’re collecting no data on the pope?’ And, ‘Did you collect any information on him when he was the archbishop, while staying in a certain residence in Rome at the time of the election?’ I don’t think they’re telling the truth.”

Earlier today, Paul introduced a Senate resolution, calling for the president to address the story published Wednesday by Panorama, an Italian magazine.

Now bear in mind: The National Security Agency (NSA) is called a “spy agency” in this report denying they would ever dare spy on the Vatican (I mean come on, why would they do that? It’s not as though the Holy See holds any power or influence…) for a reason: Because it spies on people. This is one of those strange elements of the NSA spying scandal that’s hard to understand: spying is what the NSA does. The scope and the domestic focus are what’s troubling. So all the denying and outrage following revelations from the evening news seem odd responses.

And what Paul is doing here is a bit odd as well, at least at first glance. He’s a sharp enough guy to know that there’s nothing really to see here, but he’s leveraging the negative PR of spying on a new Pope who seems to be a genuinely sweet guy. Not a bad strategy, really, when attempting to call out a bully.

Allahpundit at HotAir thinks the whole thing comes off as a bit flimsy, and acknowledges it’s more than likely about “good salesmanship”:

I can think of a few religious leaders worth spying on, although the Pope’s not one of them. In theory there’s always a reason you might want to listen in on a head of state’s or religious leader’s calls — not so much for what he might say but for what might be said to him by the VIP he’s speaking to — but the PR disaster inherent in spying on the Pope (the Pope!) is so awful that the risk can’t possibly be justified. Frankly, Pope Francis seems nice enough that he’d probably let them listen in if they just asked nicely. But then, there’s no good reason to think the NSA’s actually doing this. The Vatican has no evidence of it; the NSA denies it; the Italian magazine that made the claim cited no source for it and, as far as I know, has no access to any document lifted by Edward Snowden that might conceivably prove it. Without further evidence, it smells like a publication pushing out something that’s thin yet irresistible in order to piggyback on the global attention paid to the NSA’s snooping on Angela Merkel.

So fine, Rand Paul, in attempting to further chastise an administration that has taken great liberties with power, may be having a bit of fun with this one. And Catholics can, too. Because every Catholic is taught, from a very young age, that you may say you didn’t know, and you may even believe it, but God, who sees into the hearts of man, knows the truth (with apologies to all you atheists out there). And there will be, quite literally, hell to pay if you’re lying.

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