The American Right’s New Target: Pope Francis

Pope Francis Attends His Weekly Audience In St Peter's Square

This piece in the Federalist by Maureen Mullarkey strikes me as whiff of the future. It’s a full-bore attack on the Pope, and an attempt to define him as a Peronist leftist activist who needs to be “called out”. It comes after various broadsides from the theocons – which we first chronicled here. The anti-Francis position on the environment we also chronicled here and here.

My view is that the real breaking point will be the Pope’s forthcoming Encyclical on climate change, which is rumored to be one of the longest and most emphatic Encyclicals ever issued by the Vatican. The American right – which has been lulled by theocons into believing the absurd notion that Catholicism is completely compatible with capitalism – will go nuts if the Pope calls fracking, for example, a sin against the planet. And this despite the fact that this Pope’s position on the environment is indistinguishable from his predecessor’s, Benedict XVI.

Why are they so exercised when Francis says what Benedict said? Because Francis has captured the hearts of American Catholics, and he will travel here later this year. He will address the UN on climate change. He will make the Republican position – that the planet is merely a resource to be exploited rather than an inheritance to preserve – close to untenable for many American Catholics. He will expose just how fringe the GOP’s current position is.

But notice the new tone. I love the subtitles of the piece: “Let’s Talk About Pope Francis Associating With Marxists”; “The Hashtag Papacy”; “Silence And Appeasement Have Never Been Effective”. Fightin’ words! Money quote from Mullarkey:

Let us be honest. Conservatives are damned if they do, damned if they don’t. While deferential observers are measuring their tones, Francis drives ahead with a demagogic program which makes the state the guardian and enforcer all values. To suppress challenge to a pope’s political biases or erratic behavior is no favor to the Church. It is little more than a failure of nerve that will earn no reward in the press. Silence is a form of collusion.

So the gloves are off. My money’s on Francis.

(Photo: Getty Images)