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After Pope Francis’ suggestion that the Catholic Church not be “obsessed” with abortion, contraception and homosexuality, American conservatives tended to react by stressing that the pontiff wasn’t changing any dogma, but rather just presenting a more conciliatory tone — much as Republicans were supposed to do after the 2012 election.

They played this angle up when Francis seemed to walk back his outreach by reminding people he really doesn’t like abortion.

But others on the right aren’t willing to be so accepting of a Pope who had already said in July, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”

“I know even the pope has said when we talk about these things, we imply a kind of intolerance. That is not the point at all,” Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia E.W. Jackson said Sunday. “The point is to be true to the word of God. The point is to stand up and tell the truth. There is no better way found, ever, to raise children than with a mother and a father in the home. Even sociologically, you can make the argument.”

Actually, sociologically, the kids of gay parents are doing better than average children, according to the largest study ever on the subject.

Americans for Truth About Homosexuality president Peter LaBarbera — a walking Smithsonian exhibit for virulently anti-gay sentiments that all too recently were sanctioned by mainstream society — made the disproven connection between the acceptance of homosexuality and the abuse scandals that plagued the Church in the last decade.

Further, LaBarbera doesn’t buy the argument that the Pope’s change in tone isn’t significant.

“We understand that the pope is not embracing a change in Church doctrine, and that he truly wants to help homosexual strugglers come to God,” he wrote. “But at the same time we recognize that words matter in this debate — indeed, they often drive it.”

He vowed to keep a “close eye” on the Holy See.

Bryan J. Fischer, radio host and “Director of Issue Analysis” at the American Family Association, merely took the Pope’s comments as a chance to blame gay people for his need to be anti-gay.

When the Pope is provoking reactions like this, it’s not hard to see why liberals are so thrilled by his words.

Photo: markn3tel via Flickr.com

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Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons, a novel and a memoir. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

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