Monday, September 21, 2015

Republicans Fear Pope Francis Bombshells

I am no great fan of the Roman Catholic Church when it comes to its anti-gay and anti-women positions and 12th century derived dogma.  But I do have to confess that I may find some great entertainment from Pope Francis' visit if he flings some bombshells at the Republican Party agenda which is more or less the antithesis of the Church's social gospel message.  And apparently, some in the GOP are fearful that Francis may indeed throw some bombshells at the GOP's policies even if he doesn't pillory the GOP by name.  Articles in both Vanity Fair and Politicususa look at the GOP apprehension.  First, here are highlights from Vanity Fair:

New Jersey governor and presidential candidate Chris Christie had no problem disagreeing with the head of his church.

“I just think the Pope is wrong,” Christie said during an appearance on CNN's State of the Union, when asked about Pope Francis’s Cuba policy. The pontiff, who arrives in the U.S. for his first papal visit this week, was a key figure in the re-establishing of diplomatic ties between America and Cuba, a move that infuriated American conservatives and placed Christie, a Catholic, in an awkward spot.

“The fact is that his infallibility is on religious matters, not on political ones,” Christie said. He’s not the only one grappling with his faith in this unusual way: upon learning that Francis plans to dedicate a great portion of his upcoming congressional address to the topics of global warming and income inequality, the Catholic half of the Republican presidential field likely suffered low-grade anxiety attacks.

In a normal election cycle, with a more traditional Pope, these politicians would fall over themselves to get a photo with the Pontiff. But Francis's papacy, which also includes secretly brokering a thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations, has led to a new phenomenon: Catholic Republican presidential candidates opposing the Pope on issues, as his statements draw favor with American liberals and moderates but remain anathema to the positions held by the self-proclaimed party of faith.

“What’s different this time around is that you have a Pope who’s emphasizing issues that generally play to Democratic strengths,” said Stephen White, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, adding that, at the very least, the G.O.P. had advance warning to brace themselves.

“You have a Pope who talks about climate change. You have a Pope who really, really emphasizes care for the poor,” White said. “You have a Pope who speaks often about being open and welcoming of immigrants, and that doesn’t look really good for the G.O.P.”

Steven Krueger from the nonprofit group Catholic Democrats sees the Pope’s visit as an opportunity for Democrats to win back the consideration of white, moderate Catholics.

The piece in Politicususa continues the theme: 
Since 1964, when what we now think of the Religious Right set out to take over the Republican Party, the line between religion and politics have become increasingly blurred on the Right. We have seen conservative Christian theology legislated into law with damning frequency, whether it is related to abortion or contraception or marriage, or any of a number of other areas.

So when Indiana Republican Sen. Dan Coats says of the pope’s address to Congress Thursday, “I’m always concerned about those who are bringing spiritual messages that step too far over the line in terms of political issues,” you have to laugh.   Republicans have no shame when it comes to utterances like this.

Coats thinks Pope Francis should not be able to say the sorts of things Evangelicals say every day. Republicans like Coats want Pope Francis to stay out of politics, even though Evangelicals not only cross the line every day into politics, but control a major political party.

Apparently, only Republicans can speak for God, even when the pope is in town.

The pope has really riled up Republicans since he began to address the threat of climate change. After all, hell hath no fury like a Republican whose income is threatened. Never forget these men are not employed by the American people; their real employees are the fossil fuel industry.

“I think it’s totally inappropriate that the pope is weighing in on all the real sensitive, far-left issues,” Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe said.

What is amusing is that Inhofe can insist the pope remain silent on “far-left issues.” If he was saying there was no climate change, Inhofe would be urging him to speak up. If Pope Francis was a big supporter of capitalism, Inhofe would be beside himself with joy.

I think in a court of law that would be hearsay. The only relevant part of that statement is that Inhofe is against it. I’m not a Catholic either, and I think it’s great. Unlike Republicans from Donald Trump to Ted Cruz to Ben Carson, the pope is not running for elected office in the United States.
Vulture capitalism, slashing the social safety net, fanning income inequality, praising greed and avarice, disparaging the poor, etc.,  are virtues in today's GOP.  I bet Pope Francis has a differing view.

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