News - 8 Ottobre “Fratelli Tutti”: Pope Francis and the Conflict Between Politics and Spirituality What exactly is the role of the papacy? Ostensibly the pope is the spiritual head of the church. More realistically, we should conclude that it is a political office. Encyclicals have always functioned not only as spiritual guidance, but as political statements. I don’t question Christian values, though I prefer to think of them as universal values shared by all religions, but there is a wide gap between spiritual ideals and Church policies and practices.