The conservatives—Republicans and the Tea Party—makes a pretty good show of supporting religion—particularly Catholic—ideals. Or at least they have in the past. But they support Mammon much more than they support Christianity.
As a result, the Pope's statement has been widely panned by conservative sources:
- Belief Blog reports that Rush Limbaugh said, "It's Sad How Wrong Pope Francis is" and "It's sad because this pope makes it very clear he doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth." He sums up the statement as, "This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the Pope."
- Adam Shaw on Fox News wrote a piece titled, Pope Francis is the Catholic Church’s Obama – God help us.
- Andrew Napolitano on Fox News wrote, "His encyclical, entitled 'Joy of the Gospel,' attacks free market capitalism because it takes too long for the poor to get rich." Later in the article, he adds, "The pope seems to prefer common ownership of the means of production, which is Marxist, or private ownership and government control, which is fascist, or government ownership and government control, which is socialist. All of those failed systems lead to ashes, not wealth."
In one of his earlier interviews, Pope Francis also berated Catholics for, "...focusing too much on gays, abortion and contraception, saying the church has become 'obsessed' with those issues to the detriment of its larger mission to be 'home for all.'" Many of these conservative responses also mention that in a manner best paraphrased as, "Get off of capitalism and back to abortion and gays." Some of the commentators went so far as to accuse the pope of "betraying Catholics" because of this statement.
Well, I think some of his comments were justified.
Let's take the abortion and gay's issue first: He didn't change church policy on those subjects and made that clear. Betrayal? Hardly. He merely pointed out that this endless focus on: Abortion! Gays! Abortion! Gays! Abortion! Gays! Abortion! Gays! Abortion!! Gays!! Abortion!! Gays!! Abortion!! Gays!! Abortion!!!!!! Gays!!!!!! ...is maybe a little unhealthy. I'll come back to this.
A lot of "free market theory" and modern capitalism practice are based on the teachings of economist Adam Smith and the "objectivism" of Ayn Rand. I haven't read about either of those in detail, but I've read a number of things that talk about the focus of these, which together are called rational egoism. Fundamental to that is the belief that: "What is good for me is the only good."
Also known as the ultimate in selfishness; and wholly incompatible with Christianity, which teaches selflessness and generosity.
If you look at the Republican and Tea Party platforms, four things stand out quite clearly from everything else, as their primary focuses: Reduce taxes. Eliminate regulation of business. Abortion must be prohibited. Gays must be criminalized.
If you look deeper at the first two, reducing taxes and eliminating regulation, you find that what underlies those is ... rational egoism. Taxes do not benefit me therefore taxes are bad. Regulation prevents me from doing what is best for me therefore all regulation is bad. The government must not take my money and use it to help the poor; the government must not prevent me from committing fraud, killing off people with my poisonous waste, or from selling things that kill people.
Way deep down, the Republican/Tea Party platforms are about...selfishness.
That creates a problem. If your whole platform is based on doing exactly what the Bible—the Pope—tell Christians is wrong, how do you get Christians to vote for you? To cover up your main interest, you need a way to show Christians that you are...Christian.
Which brings us to their last two focuses: Abortion and gays. The conservative parties use these to whip their Christian constituencies into Christian fever to do their Christian duty and vote...conservative. In fact, if there is a cause of excessive focus on this subject, it is probably due to the conservatives.
Like Professor Marvel in the Wizard of Oz, who said, "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain," the conservative parties use their "Christian" platform elements to conceal the fact that their other major focuses are not Christian: That their other major focus is Mammon.
No wonder the conservatives slammed the Pope for his statements: He was attacking their major focus and undercutting their Christian facade.