Dionne: Francis' actions speak louder than his words

Children greet Pope Francis upon his arrival for a first-ever visit to the United States, at Joint Base Andrews on Tuesday.

WASHINGTON -- A danger for all of us in the column business is that we'll look for political meaning in Pope Francis' big speeches and ignore what he actually does while he's here.

Yes, his words will matter, and Francis will have an enormous impact both on American politics and on politics inside a divided American Catholic Church.

Progressives will highlight everything the pope says about climate change, immigration, social justice and capitalism. Conservatives will grab on to every statement he makes against abortion. Both sides will look for how he describes "religious liberty."

It's hard to see how progressives don't come out ahead, simply because the pope has radically reordered the priorities of the church. He is not fighting culture wars. He is fighting against them.

But seeing Francis only as a player in our political fights is misleading.