Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Is Pope Francis Driving a Wedge Between Catholics and the GOP?

As noted in a number of posts since Pope Francis ascended to the throne of St. Peter, Francis has regularly condemned much of the GOP agenda, be it his condemnation of unbridled capitalism  - vulture capitalism if you are Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan - or his soon to be released encyclical on climate change.  Some even credit Francis with having a hand in the change in USA-Cuba relations.  Yes, the Vatican remains very anti-gay and has supported GOP backed bans on gay marriage, but on many issues, Francis has charted a course away from the Christofascist/GOP platform.  A piece in The Hill looks at the phenomenon.  Here are excerpts:
Pope Francis is increasingly driving a wedge between conservatives and the Catholic Church.

The magnetic pope has sparked new enthusiasm around the world for the church and has flexed his political muscles internationally, most recently by helping to engineer a new relationship between the United States and Cuba.

But Francis’s agenda, which also includes calls to address income inequality and limit climate change, is putting him at odds with Republicans, including GOP Catholics in the United States.

Hours after President Obama announced moves to ease trade and travel restrictions to Cuba, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a practicing Catholic and potential 2016 presidential candidate, criticized the deal and Francis's role in it.

It's not the first time Francis has clashed with conservatives.  Since his papal inauguration in March 2013, the pontiff has publicly made policy remarks about income inequality and the environment that many American Catholics weren't used to hearing coming from the Vatican, and not just from the pulpit.

“Inequality is the root of social evil,” Francis tweeted in March, after months earlier slamming “trickle-down” economics as a “crude and na├»ve” theory.

Catholics have long been considered an important voting block in American politics and have turned out for the winning presidential candidate in the last three cycles.

A closer look at the Catholic vote reveals that white Catholics have supported the Republican candidate in each of those elections, while Hispanic Catholics have supported the Democratic candidate, according to Pew Research polling.

Progressive Catholics, however, such as Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic social justice organization, are cheering Francis on as he calls for the world's elite to do more to help the poor. 

“Oh my gloria, this is a definite change in tone from being a 'scolder-in-chief' to being the one who identifies with the pain in our world,” said Simone, who organized the “Nuns on a Bus” cross-country tours.

“Pope Francis's message and tone are making Catholic Republicans a little uncomfortable,” Simone said. “He's stirring the concern on issues like poverty and the economy.”
Meanwhile, evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants remain look step with the GOP and diametrically opposed to the true Gospel message.  Their hypocrisy is stunning. 

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