A war is brewing. Not between nations, but between conservatives and Pope Francis. It’s a war that the right-wing is almost certain to lose, but they insist on waging it anyway.
Fox News has declared war on Pope Francis and compared him to President Obama.
In a column published on the Fox News website last week, Adam Shaw put a target directly on Pope Francis’ back by comparing him to President Obama. As we all know, President Obama is hated by conservatives. So by connecting the pontiff to the president, Fox News is making Pope Francis enemy number two among right-wingers.
Shaw began his piece thusly:
“Pope Francis is undergoing a popularity surge comparable to the way Barack Obama was greeted by the world in 2008. And just as President Obama has been a disappointment for America, Pope Francis will prove a disaster for the Catholic Church.”
See what Shaw did there? He’s tapping into conservative hatred of Obama, and trying to shift it to Pope Francis. Essentially, by linking Pope Francis to Obama, Shaw is guaranteeing that conservatives will declare war on him.
Adam Shaw claims Pope Francis is hurting the Catholic Church because he’s not conservative enough.
According to Shaw Pope Francis is apologizing for the Catholic Church in the same way conservatives believe President Obama is apologizing for America. Because Pope Francis has taken up the plight of the poor and has called out the Church’s obsession with social issues such as same-sex marriage and abortion, Shaw claims Catholics are leaving the Church. He cites a Pew Research Poll as proof. But the poll is merely a snapshot taken in the middle of Pope Francis’ first year of leadership. As President Obama has pointed out, it takes more than a year to clean up the mess of one’s predecessor.
That same Pew poll shows that Pope Francis is immensely popular in America. 79 percent of Catholics and 58 percent of the general public approve of Pope Francis. That may not be translating into increased church attendance right now, but for an institution that desperately needs some good PR, it’s welcome news.
Besides, how can Shaw expect church attendance to rise here in America when many Catholic bishops, such as Timothy Dolan, still infuse hate in their teachings? If Pope Francis’s message were being delivered by more Catholic leaders in America, perhaps more people would return to Sunday Mass. For that matter, how can Shaw expect Christians of any sect to attend services when the dominating voice they are hearing is that of hate, prejudice, and sexism? At any rate, church attendance was dropping long before Pope Francis took over the helm.
Shaw wants Pope Benedict back in charge.
Obviously, Shaw isn’t impressed by Pope Francis. Shaw denies that America practices the kind of “savage capitalism” that generates wealth for the few while pushing millions of people into poverty. Pope Francis’ attack of the conservative “trickle-down” theory of economics has caused right-wing heads to explode. Instead of supporting Pope Francis’ effort to improve the lives of the poor by condemning the very economic policies that have ravaged millions around the globe, Shaw wishes Pope Benedict had stuck around. Yeah, because what the world needs is a pontiff who calls Muslims evil, calls for converting Jews to “deliver them from the darkness,” pardons Holocaust deniers, is anti-science, was embroiled in the predatory priest scandal, and was a walking billboard for capitalist greed. Not to mention the fact that Pope Benedict was a member of the Hitler Youth, albeit involuntary. It’s totally understandable why conservatives would want him back. But clearly, the Catholic Church was suffering under his reign and the world rejected the Church even more. His resignation is the second best thing that could have happened to the Church. The election of Pope Francis is number one.
Pope Francis’ attack of trickle-down economics has enraged conservatives.
In his Evangelii Gaudium, released just last month, Pope Francis directly attacked the conservative economic view.
“While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”
In this one passage, Pope Francis condemns the right-wing policy that has harmed the poor, helped the rich, and hurt the environment. Trickle-down economics has been the dominating economic model in the United States for three decades and it’s only made our economy weaker while generating mass profits for the wealthy. It caused a major recession that hurt millions of Americans. It has created a wealthy few while causing deeper levels of poverty at any time since the Great Depression. Yet, conservatives still defend it because it serves their larger agenda.
By attacking Pope Francis, conservatives risk alienating the majority of Catholics and well over half of the American people.
People are drawn to Pope Francis because he is vastly different. He doesn’t exclude anybody, unlike the Republican Party that excludes everyone but wealthy white Christian males. He calls out the failed economic policies that have caused suffering around the globe. And, he reaches out to those who hold other beliefs. Just like President Obama, Pope Francis is a populist. But unlike President Obama, the pontiff doesn’t have deal with an obstructionist opposition to change how the Catholic Church moves forward into the future. So go ahead, conservatives. Attack Pope Francis all you want. Because if you do so, you’ll only piss off the majority of Catholics in this country and around the world as well as the majority of Americans who like him.