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The Papal Visit Brings Forth Ugliness From the Right

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

In a recent press release, Catholic League president Bill Donohue warned, “Pope Visits To U.S. Occasion Ugliness.” Donohue then went on to describe the activities of several Catholic and non-Catholic Progressive leaning organizations during the last two papal visits. As is his wont, Donohue recklessly tarred dissent (by the Women’s Ordination Conference, for example) as anti-Catholic behavior. Donohue demagogically conflates progressive and liberal dissent with hate. There are important differences between hate and dissent, regardless of the source.

But with the ascendancy of the more open-minded Pope Francis, the Catholic League president all-too-conveniently overlooked much of the ugliness aimed at the pontiff from the Right.

On his upcoming visit to the United States Pope Francis will be addressing Congress. A significant portion of his message is expected to focus on the need to take action against Global Warming. This is not sitting well with many conservatives including conservative Catholics who would prefer that Francis talk about culture war memes such as abortion and the supposed war on Christianity.

One of these is Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) — a Tea Partier and a vocal gun rights activist — who once described Native Americans as “wards of the federal government.” He has also signed a pledge to vote against any Global Warming legislation that would raise taxes. It would be an understatement to say that he is at odds with Francis over economics and the environment.

So, to that end, on September 17, 2015 Representative Gosar published a piece on the conservative website Townhall.com entitled, “Why I Am Boycotting Pope Francis’ Address to Congress.” The statement is a long list of grievances against the successor to Saint Peter — and it is not short on hyperbole. Gosar complains, for example, that Francis may discuss climate change, but he…

…has adopted all of the socialist talking points, wrapped false science and ideology into “climate justice” and is being presented to guilt people into leftist policies. If the Pope stuck to standard Christian theology, I would be the first in line. If the Pope spoke out with moral authority against violent Islam, I would be there cheering him on. If the Pope urged the Western nations to rescue persecuted Christians in the Middle East, I would back him wholeheartedly. But when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.

It goes on like this.

If the Pope wants to devote his life to fighting climate change then he can do so in his personal time. But to promote questionable science as Catholic dogma is ridiculous.

Gosar claims:

I have both a moral obligation and leadership responsibility to call out leaders, regardless of their titles, who ignore Christian persecution and fail to embrace opportunities to advocate for religious freedom and the sanctity of human life. If the Pope plans to spend the majority of his time advocating for flawed climate change policies, then I will not attend. It is my hope that Pope Francis realizes his time is better spent focusing on matters like religious tolerance and the sanctity of all life. As the leader of the Catholic Church, and as a powerful voice for peace throughout the world, His Holiness has a real opportunity to change the climate of slaughter in the Middle East… not the fool’s errand of climate change.

“Socialist talking points?” “Leftist policies?” Really?

Gosar’s condescending screed is full of stuff like this: “…when the Pope chooses to act and talk like a leftist politician, then he can expect to be treated like one.” Such language is not civic in nature, but instead, full of hatred and hostility.

Unfortunately for Gosar, this partisan sniping reveals a breathtakingly bad understanding of Catholic social teaching (of which, both the “Option for the Poor” and “Stewardship of God’s Creation” are of great importance). He should know this since he boasts of his Jesuit education.

Then there is conservative writer Maureen Mullarkey who recently inked a poison pen piece entitled, “Francis and Political Illusion” in which she describes Francis as “an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist.” Mullarkey subsequently published a piece entitled, “Pope Francis Is A Leftist And Must Be Called Out”. In it, she complains that Francis is not being harsher on Islam “when innocents are slaughtered in Paris by the same forces that are shedding Christian blood in the Middle East… .”

Such ranting should be no surprise coming from Mullarkey who is a contributor to the journal First Things, the well-known outlet for Catholic and Evangelical neoconservatives.

None of this is new.

As I pointed out in 2013 when Rush Limbaugh, Jeb Bush and Bill Donohue himself engaged in some ugliness by mischaracterizing Pope Francis’s criticisms of libertarian economics as a call to Marxist revolution. This is far from the first or only time a Catholic has been called a Marxist or a Socialist for wanting to use the power of government to ensure that capitalism be fairer and less predatory.

While it is true that a lot of ugliness has been directed at Pope Francis: Bill Donohue just isn’t being straight with us about the direction from whence it mostly comes.

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2 Responses

  1. The Establishment GOP is “thrilled” with pope’s visit. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/09/22/1423695/-Boehner-s-dream-come-true-Having-Pope-Francis-address-the-Congress

  2. Betty, with all due respect, I sincerely doubt that very much. In fact, they are very, very uncomfortable with this visit.

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