The Making of a Pope

Every time conservatives hear that Pope Francis has said anything they brace for impact, because liberals have made a new Bizzaro Francis who is a solid backer of modern liberal thought.

While liberals understand that Pope Francis speaks out of love for everyone, that means to the liberal mind that he must be a liberal as well, for only liberals truly love and care about humanity. Further, since liberals realize that there is only one way to help others -- the liberal way -- liberals assume that the Pope must support the same policy approaches that liberals do.

Experience has shown that if we actually listen to what the Pope says we’ll find nothing that would offend conservative sensibilities.

For example the famous “Who am I to judge?” quote, when examined in context means something far different from what the liberal’s portray it to mean. The Pope had been asked about a “gay lobby” in the Church.  In response to that the Pope said:

There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card.

When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency is not the problem … they’re our brothers.

A gay who accepts the Lord is living a chaste life and avoiding sin. What the Pope said is ancient Catholic teaching, condemn the sin not the sinner. The Church has always taught that only God can judge if a man sins but men can judge actions. Nothing new or strange there -- after all the Little Sisters of the Poor, Mother Theresa’s order, does not run hospices for AIDS victims out of hatred for gays.

Yet liberals see the Popes comments in an entirely different light. They proclaim that the Pope is saying gay is okay.

This is not an isolated incident; in fact pretty much all reporting on Pope Francis goes far beyond what he really says.

Recently the Daily Kos ran an article with this headline:

Pope Francis: Causing Climate Change Is a "Sin"

The quote used to justify the headline is:

“But when we exploit Creation we destroy the sign of God’s love for us, in destroying Creation we are saying to God: ‘I don’t like it! This is not good!’ ‘So what do you like?’ ‘I like myself!’ – Here, this is sin! Do you see?”

Note that nowhere in the quote is climate change mentioned. In fact, what the Pope said was that we should not be poor stewards of Creation; a position the Church has held for millennia. He did not say what specific policy plans we must follow to be good stewards for the simple reason that the Popes authority is limited to issues of morality and theology not climate policy -- though because Pope Francis is an intelligent man it would serve us well to listen to his opinions on what might be good policy.

But liberals projected onto Francis’s words their own specific policy beliefs thereby creating an entirely different message from an entirely different Pope. 

While it’s tempting to think that liberals are just lying to further their cause, the actual basis for this distortion effect is liberals identification with Francis.

Liberals tend to view themselves as caring people who are motivated by altruistic love to use their superior intellects to improve the lives of the poor and downtrodden. Sadly, a rational liberal will sense the conflict between their behavior and their self-assessment.

Raising taxes on others to help the poor is not true charity, nor is passing laws that target the poor -- by driving up energy and food costs -- in order to “protect the environment”. While modern liberals talk the talk of loving others, they really walk the walk of caring about themselves. Liberals are very enthused about being philanthropic with other people’s money but much less excited about giving their own to help the poor. That contradiction leads liberals to try and find support for their views in the Pope in order to assuage their consciences.

When liberals look at the Pope they classify him as one of their own because of the Popes emphasis on love and compassion. Because the Pope says we should love one another liberals know he can’t be a conservative because all conservatives are monsters whose only motive is selfishness.

In order to identify the Pope as a lockstep liberal they either chose to ignore what Francis says or because they’ve never heard what he says.

For example here are some very conservative words of the Pope on a few issues:

1) Economics: How to help the poor “This means education, access to health care, and above all employment, for it is through free, creative, participatory and mutually supportive labor that human beings express and enhance the dignity of their lives.”

2) Abortion: "Defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right," "It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development. Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems.

3) So-called gay marriage: “Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”

Because liberals identify Francis as one of their own, they ignore what he actually says and project onto him their beliefs; liberals generally fail to internalize that people of good will can honestly disagree on what the best solution to a problem is. In the mind of liberals only liberals have compassion and love for others and all people who truly care about others share the same beliefs on how to be loving and compassionate towards others.

Hence when the Pope says that we must be good stewards of the environment, liberals assume that he must mean that we should accept liberal solutions because in the mind of liberals only liberal solutions are loving and compassionate.

All liberal reporting on Pope Francis is distorted by this projection of their own views onto the mirror they’ve made of the Pope. As a result it’s unlikely that any scare “quote” you hear that supposedly comes from the Pope represents what the Pope actually said.

Instead what usually happens is that the Pope stated a principle -- we must care for the environment, we must care for the poor, we must not judge other though we can judge their actions -- and the media have projected onto the Popes words the specific actions that liberals think are required to meet those principles.

So take to heart the words of Saint Pope John Paul II: “Be not afraid.” Pope Francis is not a liberal and nothing he will do will change Catholic teaching, nor does he propose the same tired old liberal solutions for the problems of the world.

Rather Pope Francis, like his predecessors, preaches that the solution to the ills of the world is a radical commitment to Jesus Christ that entails loving God above all others and our neighbors as ourselves.

You can read more of tom’s rants at his blog, Conversations about the obvious and feel free to follow him on Twitter