Stirring the Pot in Preparation for the Pope's Visit

With Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. just around the corner (Tuesday September 23) the MSM and all the other liberal/progressive news outlets are once again doing their best to convince everyone that Pope Francis really is a liberal/progressive, even though nothing he has said is in any way contrary to Catholic Doctrine or Catholic Social Teaching, and even though he has spoken out against abortion, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, contraception, and secular relativism, and has stridently defended traditional marriage and the family as the cornerstones of society. 

Associated Press (AP) writers seem to be spearheading the ‘Pope Francis is really a liberal/progressive’ myth. A recent AP story, “For GOP candidates, better to be with pope than against him” stated:

Francis has become one of the world’s most popular figures since his 2013 election to the papacy, drawing praise for his humility and efforts to refocus the Church on the poor and needy. He also has become involved in numerous hot-button political issues, often staking out positions that put him at odds with Republicans.

The message here is clear -- the Pope is a progressive/liberal and his “positions” are clearly not conservative or Republican positions.

AP’s Vatican correspondent Nicole Winfield has tirelessly tried to reinforce this myth, as she did in a 2014 with an article about Pope Francis titled "Pope maps out personal (and progressive) policy", wherein she says, “He hasn't changed church doctrine. But he has pushed the envelope on some issues, raised eyebrows with his blunt speaking style on others, and made clear where his progressive social priorities lie.” 

So just what are these “progressive social policies” that Winfield is touting?  Once everything that is touted by the LGBT community, the pro-choice crowd, PETA, and the feminists is ruled out, all that’s really left is ecology and economics, and on both of these subjects Pope Francis has spoken out as a traditional Catholic, restating what his predecessors Pope Benedict XVI and Pope St. John Paul II have already said – don’t make money your god, the economy should serve mankind, not the other way around; and, we are stewards of God’s creation, not masters of it.

In an interview with Portugal-based Radio Renascença on September 8, Pope Francis (yet again) explained his view of the kind of economics that is being practiced throughout much of the world today while addressing the refugee problem the world is facing as a result of the problems in the Middle East:

This is the tip of the iceberg. We see these refugees, these poor people who are escaping from war, escaping from hunger, but that’s the tip of the iceberg.  But underlying that is the cause, and the cause is a socio-economic system that is bad, unjust, because within an economic system, within everything, within the world, speaking of the ecological problem, within the socio-economic society, in politics, the person always has to be the center. And today’s dominant economic system has removed the person from the center, and at the center is the god of money. It’s the fashionable god today.

In regard to Laudato Si, the encyclical that has been called the “pope’s encyclical on global warming,” numerous pundits were quick to pen scathing critiques of the encyclical, and Pope Francis, that were all based on the fact that the Pope accepted the viewpoint that man is responsible for global warming.  What all of these pundits failed to grasp in their haste to criticize Francis is that this viewpoint merely served as a vehicle for Francis to offer up five important truths, as William Doino Jr. states in an excellent analysis of Laudato Si at First Thngs

  • Truth is objective and unchanging.
  • God gave humanity dominion over the earth, but that does not mean we have a right to abuse and exploit it.
  • Everything in God’s creation is interrelated, and one cannot separate protection of the environment from protection of humanity.
  • The traditional family is the center and building block of civilization
  • Jesus Christ is Lord and Master of the Universe, and the riches of his Church are unsurpassed.

(First Things is published by the RJN society, an interreligious, nonpartisan research and education institute whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.)

So no, Pope Francis really does not have any “progressive social policies” in regard to economics or the environment either. 

Professor Thomas D. Williams, over at Briebart, is also on to the Left’s game. In a recent piece entitled “Media Cast Pope Francis as ‘Wily’ Liberal Ahead of U.S. Visit” he criticizes a recent article by Paul Vallely in New York magazine in which Vallely tried to paint a picture of the Pope as

“ . . . a scheming liberal political strategist, outmaneuvering his conservative adversaries through a series of calculated subterfuges.

Vallely’s endeavor follows on the heels of other failed attempts to coopt the Pope, such as the ridiculous Washington Post article pitting the supposedly liberal Francis against a sour group of disenfranchised conservatives, or the Politico piece that called Francis the “anti-Donald Trump.”

Williams concludes his article saying Americans will finally get a chance to see the Pope Francis for themselves when he visits, and, “What they will see is a sincerely believing Christian who cares deeply about people and wishes to ignite in the heart of every man, woman, and child the fire of God’s love.”

Williams’ sentiments are echoed by Mary Beth Yount, director of content and programming for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, and event that coincides with the Pope’s visit. According to Yount, Pope Francis really does not see himself as the Vicar of Christ or the leader of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Rather, he sees himself, first and foremost as the pastor of a very large parish:

“Here is the secret to Pope Francis: He doesn’t have a secret agenda for us to discover. He truly loves us, and he sees himself as supporting and guiding his global parish, caring for people in their struggles and joys.”

Despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, Pope Francis is still viewed as a Leftist, a socialist or a communist by many Americans. While he is none of these things, the Left cannot afford to let the narrative they’ve created die. 

What it all comes down to is that the Left is desperate – Bill and Hilary are tanking fast, their feckless leader will be out of office in a year, and the only other person they can offer up as a presidential candidate is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist. They are desperately looking for new heroes, and they oh so badly want Pope Francis to be on their side.  

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