Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Monday, October 24, 2016

Pope Francis’ new encyclical on environmentalism and social justice, Laudato Si (“Praise Be To You”), has placed right-wing politicians in an awkward situation: After having conflated religion and conservatism for so long, proudly bolstering their political views with their Christian ones, many must now contend with one of the most prominent religious leaders in the world, who is advancing a progressive vision on some key issues.

George Weigel at National Review gives a remarkably balanced take, highlighting Pope Francis’ commitment in the document to morality and tradition: “Francis’ counter-proposal leads him to argue that being ecologically conscious and environmentally committed necessarily means being pro-life.” Weigel stresses that the encyclical is about far more than global warming and that it contains a call to revitalize the human condition.

Others, however, have not been receiving it quite so well.

Folks at The Wall Street Journal are already criticizing Pope Francis, dubbing it “Pope Francis’ New Religion: Environmentalism,” and accusing of him of having “an anti-capitalist bent.”

In recent days, Republican sort-of-frontrunner Jeb Bush — a convert to Catholicism — walked on eggshells as he distanced himself from Francis.

“I hope I’m not going to get castigated for saying this by my priest back home, but I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope,” Bush told Sean Hannity this week. “And I’d like to see what he says as it relates to climate change and how that connects to these broader, deeper issues before I pass judgment. But I think religion ought to be about making us better as people and less about things that end up getting in the political realm.”

(Of course, this discomfort with mixing religion and politics might seem odd coming from a man who, under the banner of right-to-life rhetoric, interceded in the Terri Schiavo affair while serving as Florida’s governor.)

In the run-up to the encyclical’s release, Rick Santorum made a classic blunder a week and a half ago on Fox News Sunday. “I think that we probably are better off leaving science to the scientists,” Santorum said — only to be reminded by host Chris Wallace that Pope Francis does have a background in chemistry.

Santorum’s skepticism of religious figures getting involved in science is also a major turnaround for him. While championing the teaching of creationism in schools, he was skeptical of scientists’ involvement in science. As he said in 2011, during his first campaign for president: “It’s very interesting that you have a situation that science will only allow things in the classroom that are consistent with a non-Creator idea of how we got here, as if somehow or another that’s scientific.”

Rush Limbaugh was railing against the pope as well, claiming that he has long been “attacking capitalism using Democrat Party language,” and that “this guy sounds like a Marxist.”

Mark Levin says Francis “wants to go beyond his leadership of the Catholic Church” and boss all of us around — “replacing true faith and religion with this phony faith that they believe is the new religion,” referring to environmentalism. (Levin also took the occasion to trash not only left-leaning Catholics, but liberal Jews as well.)

And there’s the always-unhinged Michael Savage: “He has been hand-selected by the New World Order. He is the first non-European pope in 1,200 years — the same people who gave us Obama gave us this pope.” Savage also demanded that the Vatican sell off its fine works of art (many of which are in fact on public display, mind you) and give the money away.

Photo: AFP Photo/Andreas Solaro

Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2015 The National Memo
  • Daniel Jones

    Santorum is skeptical of science that disagrees with him–and religion that disagrees with him.. and reality that disagrees with him.

  • Insinnergy

    Poor GOP nutters… they’ve been using religion to “justify” their idiocy, anti-environment, pro-free market, and poor-hating activities for so long that now they’re going to look ridiculous trying to suddenly separate it out.

    Look at Jeb and Santorum… already making statements that are pretty much complete lies and rewrites of their own words and actions…

    Then there’s the whole problem to do with the things they still can use religion to justify, such as anti-abortion… and the back flips they are going to have to do to try to say it’s OK for religion to be used as a guide in one political instance… but the Pope is not the appropriate person to comment on another….

    Ultimately it’s exposing the fact that Christianity is anti-thetical to most things conservatives today stay they stand for, and say that religion supports, despite them using God to bolster their idiot standpoints and handjob their voter base.
    It doesn’t.

    For example: The most obvious is their horrific fixation on demonising, disenfranchising and removing assistance from the poor in America. Even a cursory reading of the bible would have you conclude that these people are hypocrites and Jesus would be weeping (if he had existed).

    Should be hilarious.

    • commentary42

      There is also that whole “stewardship of the earth” thing that they have taken to mean obliterating other species and polluting the commons.

  • Independent1

    “Folks at The Wall Street Journal are already criticizing Pope Francis, dubbing it “Pope Francis’ New Religion: Environmentalism,” and accusing him of having “an anti-capitalist bent.””

    So even the right-wing Wall Street Journal has to join in the hysteria over the Pope’s comments. Even though the Pope isn’t doing anything of the kind – He isn’t on “an anti-capitalist bent,”

    His comments have nothing to do with capitalism per se. As defined by Merriam Webster, Capitalism is only: “a way of organizing an economy so that the things that are used to make and transport products (such as land, oil, factories, ships, etc.) are owned by individual people and companies rather than by the government.”

    The Pope isn’t against any of that: people using private means to make a living – provided those involved in capitalistic endeavors are willing to play the game fairly, and for the benefit of everyone. What the Pope appears to be railing against now, is the fact that a large percentage of those playing the capitalistic game, are not playing the game fairly – they’re using every means they can think of to cheat in whatever way they can think of that will make them even richer.

    So the Pope isn’t trying to blame ‘capitalism’ for the ills of the world, he’s clearly pointing out where ‘Greed’ that’s permeating many of those who are engaging in capitalism, are bringing the world closer and closer to the point of destruction. Any sane person can see that around the world, more and more, of those engaged in capitalistic endeavors, are letting GREED overwhelm them. To the point that capitalism is no longer a means by which people around the world are striving to simply make a living, in a way that’s intended for the betterment of all; Greed has pushed a large percentage of those engaged in capitalism into using capitalism as a means to strive at making themselves FILTHY RICH, and more often than not, FILTHY RICH, at the expense of not only the people who work for them; but also often at the expense of the people who by the products and services they’re making and selling; and even at the expense of the governments under which they carry their capitalistic endeavors.

    Not only doing everything they can to cheat the people who work for them out of jobs that will pay them a living wage, but often getting the products they sell made wherever they can get them made the cheapest, and often of poor quality; and even finding ways to cheat governments out of the tax monies they rightly owe (lobbying legislators to enact capitalistic-friendly tax codes that allow they to pay little or not taxes, is just one way that those involved in capitalism have learned to cheat). And products many capitalistic companies sell have deliberately been made to not stand up to the test of time, forcing their customers to come back, time and again to repurchase the same products that were deliberate created with planned obsolesence.

    Obviously, the Pope has finally seen through that GREED, that is pushing people involved in capitalism today, into willingly even destroying our planet in their efforts to stuff more and more money into their pockets even though in many cases they’re already richer than many of them deserve. And they increase their wealth, in any corrupt and demeaning way they can imagine; even fighting against the obvious, that MAN is slowly destroying the planet that he’s living on. And because these GREEDY capitalists are so hungry for MONEY, they DECRY other man’s efforts to try and save our planet from destruction; simply because they fear it will cost them some of that precious money they are so GREEDILY trying to hoard.

    And sadly, the fact that people like Santorum and Bush and so many others seem puzzled that the Pope would say the things that he has recently, only goes to show in one more way, that none of these conservatives are remotely Christian; and their ridicule of the Pope is just one more piece of evidence, that the term Conservative Christian is an oxymoron.

  • Dominick Vila

    The misguided ideological convictions of those who like to call themselves “conservatives” become apparent when issues such as protecting our environment and preparing for the effects of global warming – or climate change, if that’s a more acceptable term – are considered offensive or controversial. Seeing our pseudo conservatives fighting against suggestions to be more aware of the environmental problems afflicting our planet, and encouragements to be more proactive in at least mitigating the effects of those problems to ensure the survival of the species and pass on to our children the same world our parents passed on to us, highlight the dramatic changes that have taken place since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower, and others. Republicans are only conservatives when the issues at hand involve $$$$.
    Jeb, Santorum, and the rest of the gang have bigger problems to deal with than excommunication.

    • The lucky one

      When the TPP that Obama is shilling for goes into effect a state’s or country’s environmental laws will mean nothing if a multinational company thinks they will lower their profit.

      • gohmert

        How do you know? I thought it was “secret”.

        • The lucky one

          Parts have been leaked.

  • atc333

    “I don’t get economic policy from my bishops or my cardinals or my pope,” Bush told Sean Hannity this week” Sorry Mr. Bush, climate change is not “economic policy”, It is a reality with severe consequences affecting nations and people worldwide. Even the US Military is aware enough to call it what it is, a threat to US National security.
    This election cycle should result in many conservatives either changing their attitudes, or being forced to distance themselves from many of the core beliefs of Christianity.


  • gohmert

    If nothing else, Pope Frank has highlighted the hypocrisy of the right wing religionists who ally with Exxon.