POPE FRANCIS is due in Philly in September. I wish he were due in Harrisburg tomorrow.

That's when the Legislature comes to the Capitol to be sworn in for a new two-year term.

And you remember how His Papalness last month peppered the Curia, those running the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church?

Well, I wish he'd bestow the same sort of "blessing" on those who run our state government.

Somebody should. And he or she can use the pope's outline.

If you missed it, Francis lambasted church leaders for, among other things, vanity, selfishness and the "pathology of power."

He coulda been talking to our lawmakers. And they could use such a talk.

The greatest failing of leadership in Harrisburg is the absence of anyone in power reminding our elected servants of their reputation for corruption, greed and stasis (evident in surveys of states and in strings of criminal charges) and telling them finally that enough is enough.

Let Francis show the way.

In addressing ills of the Catholic Church, the pope blistered leaders for feeling "indispensable" and "immune."

He suggested visiting cemeteries to see others who likely felt that way.

Someone should suggest that our lawmakers visit the list of former leaders - Fumo, Perzel, DeWeese, Veon, Orie, Feese, et al - who no doubt felt indispensable and immune but ended up in prison.

The pope decried "petrification" of those who "hide under papers and become procedural machines" or form "closed circles" of control.

Someone should note that Harrisburg's Curia is petrified by process, procedure and fidelity to special interests, the false gods of democracy.

That prevents progress on (pick your issue) campaign finance, school funding, property taxes, public pensions, liquor laws, voting rules, judicial elections and much, much more.

Francis vented against "vainglory." He said that when trappings of power, honors of office become "the first objectives of life," then those in power become "false men and women."

Talk about hitting a nail on the head.

Our lawmakers' trappings - pay, pensions and perks placing them above the majority of those whose taxes pay the price - continue a culture of self-protection, of "first objectives" replacing duty to the common good.

Someone should tell them: Live more like those you serve; that's the papal message.

His Holiness spoke of "hoarding . . . not because of necessity, but only to feel secure."


Ban gifts. Stop taking annual automatic raises. Start paying more than 1 percent of salary for health-care coverage. Give up legislative slush funds. And stop taking expense money without receipts. (Who else does that?)

Francis talked of "careerism and opportunism," of those who "think of what they must gain and not what they must give."

Think that applies to lawmakers?

He spoke of leaders who court collaborators to gain "submission, loyalty and psychological dependence." (Clearly, he was speaking of caucus meetings.) He said that when this happens, "the final result is real complicity."

It's as if he knows of Harrisburg, its pay raise, pension grab and refusal to reform.

He even mentioned the schizophrenia of those who lead double lives, who "limit their activities to bureaucracy, losing touch with reality and real people."

I assume there's no need to spell out comparisons here.

The Church of Rome and the Church of Harrisburg can improve with new, inspired leadership.

Francis sees that, and seeks change in the Vatican. Pennsylvania needs a similar crusade to seek change in the Capitol.

As a candidate in 2010, Tom Corbett promised legislative reform on "Day 1" of his administration. "Believe me," he said, "some of them aren't going to like it."

It never happened.

Five years later, will anyone - Tom Wolf, Mike Turzai, Joe Scarnati, anyone - follow the lead of Francis and challenge Harrisburg's "pathology of power"?

Blog: ph.ly/BaerGrowls

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