Many conservatives viewed the prospect of the Pope’s visit to the United States with a mixture of hope and trepidation: hope, because the Pope’s visit would force heavy media coverage of religious issues; trepidation, because of Pope Francis’ mixed record on issues ranging from climate change to illegal immigration.
Conservatives were right to worry.
The Pope’s visit has been an unmitigated boon for the left. Conservative defenders of the Pope will undoubtedly note that he has referred, albeit obliquely, to same-sex marriage and abortion; they will point out that the Pope visited the Little Sisters of the Poor and made veiled reference to religious freedom. They will suggest that the media has done the Pope wrong by focusing on the Pope’s support for leftist causes to the exclusion of his traditionally religious principles.
They’re right, naturally. But the Pope is hardly a political neophyte, unaware of the nature of the media. For years now, we’ve heard that the Pope’s words have been taken out of context, misinterpreted, even mistranslated. During his visit to the United States, the Pope spoke in English, before a joint session of Congress, with the president before the media, at the United Nations, and in New York City and Philadelphia. Over and over, he had the cameras on him. And over and over, he failed to take advantage of the situation to speak truth to power, instead catering to the hard left again and again.
Here are seven ways in which the Pope insulted conservatives during his visit:
The Staged Illegal Immigrant Child Photo-Op. On Wednesday, as the Popemobile moved down the National Mall, five-year-old Sophie Cruz somehow eluded security and reached the Pope himself. The security guards stopped young Sophie, but the Pope motioned her forward. She then hugged the Pope, and handed the Pope a letter she purportedly wrote, an eloquent plea to stay in the United States with her two illegal immigrant parents. “I want to tell you that my heart is sad,” Sophie told the media, having memorized her letter. “I would like to ask you to speak with the president and the Congress in legalizing my parents because every day I am scared that one day they will take them away from me.” Her father stood next to her, wearing a t-shirt that read “Papa Rescata DAPA!” – the Pope should rescue President Obama’s executive amnesty.
The entire photo-op was a setup, naturally. Five-year-old children do not memorize page-long letters or make it through security to the Pope without help. As the Daily Mail (UK) reported:
The stunt has been organized by immigration advocacy group Hermandad Mexicana Transnacional, in Los Angeles. Alicia Flores, executive director of La Hermandad, chose Sophie to approach the pope after a young girl was able to approach the pope in Rome in a similar incident, reported the Washington Post. She and her family were flown out to Washington as part of a group of six children and 19 adults, with the hope of delivering their message on immigration.
Comparing Fighting Illegal Immigration to Human Rights Abuses Against Native Americans. The Pope dropped this egregious rhetorical dud in the middle of his speech to Congress:
Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.
In other words, the original immigrants mistreated Native Americans, and today’s Americans must beware of doing the same to illegal immigrants. This isn’t just insulting, it’s ridiculous. Americans sent Cherokees along the Trail of Tears. Today’s Americans send illegal immigrants along the trail of free education, emergency medical care, and state-sponsored welfare programs.
Allowing President Obama to Represent Himself as An Advocate of Religious Liberty. On Wednesday, while speaking at the White House, President Obama said, “Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty….[The United States] stand[s] with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and intimidation.” Meanwhile, President Obama’s IRS cracks down on religious charities and his Obamacare regime targets religious institutions; his administration looks into persecuting religious Americans for failing to participate in same-sex weddings. A well-timed comment from the Pope could have been useful here. Instead, he stood by and said nothing. Instead, he went to visit the Little Sisters of the Poor – and the media ignored it. The Pope knows full well when the cameras are on him. They were on him with Obama. They weren’t during his side jaunt to visit those victimized by the President.
Ripping Capitalism Before Congress. Speaking before Congress, the Pope spent an inordinate amount of time lecturing legislators on the need to redistribute wealth in the name of the poor. He praised Dorothy Day, a Catholic organizer who once wrote, “We need to overthrow, not the government, as the authorities are always accusing the Communists ‘of conspiring to teach [us] to do,’ but this rotten, decadent, putrid industrial capitalist system which breeds such suffering in the whited sepulcher of New York.” Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist-VT) was ecstatic.
And no socialist has come up with a better formulation of the rhetorical slight-of-hand that equates individual liberty with collectivism than the Pope did before Congress:
If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.
The Pope has long excoriated capitalism as a brutal system of exploitation. To the celebration of leftists everywhere, the Pope has repeatedly dismissed capitalism as immoral, saying there is no evidence that capitalism brings about “greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.” This is true if you know nothing about world history or economics. The Pope’s excoriation of free markets in the United States came as no surprise, but it came as an unwelcome slap nonetheless.
Pushing Environmental Extremism. The Pope spent a significant amount of time before Congress talking about climate change and encouraging Congress to restrict American economic growth to fight that chimera. But at the United Nations, he really let loose, suggesting that the environment has “rights” – an argument unfamiliar to many readers of the Bible. People may have obligations toward the environment, but the environment has no freestanding “rights” from humanity; God does not weep when a tree is used for lumber to house a poor family. This logic leads to the Malthusian anti-humanism of the deep green left.
The Pope then tied his view of environmental rights to his desire for global redistribution of income in the name of the poor, and suggested that governments must guarantee “lodging, labour, and land” to the poor. How? Presumably by taking resources away from some and handing them to others. This reeks of Marxism, pure and simple. The Pope then added that “the large-scale destruction of biodiversity can threaten the very existence of the human species.” Now, I like whales as much as the next fellow, but zero humans will die if the blue whale goes extinct, unless the aliens come back to communicate with them (see Star Trek IV for more information on this possibility). The Pope even suggested that war was bad because it was a “dramatic assault on the environment.” War, human trafficking, exploitation, and environmental degradation are bad if they hurt human beings. War is not bad primarily because it harms trees and squirrels.
Ignoring Abortion, Talking Death Penalty. The Pope said nothing about abortion before President Obama. Then, while speaking before Democrats in Congress who support federal funding for abortion machine Planned Parenthood, he said that all human life must be treated with respect – and proceeded to glide right over the abortion issue entirely, settling on the death penalty instead. As I noted yesterday, 35 murderers were executed in 2014 in the United States. One million unborn children were killed. Some say the Pope didn’t have to get explicit about abortion. Just why in the hell wouldn’t he? He did mention the unborn at the United Nations with one word. Should we celebrate such courage?
Ignoring Same-Sex Marriage. The Pope encouraged marriage in his speech before Congress, and talked vaguely of the value of family. He complained of threats to the family. But he said nothing about what those threats were – with the very Supreme Court that declared itself above God in terms of defining marriage sitting in front of him.
The Pope’s visit could have been an incredible opportunity to fight against Godless immorality in the United States. Instead, the Pope largely used the opportunity to push leftism slathered over with paper-thin theology. That’s a tragic loss for both the world and for the religious community fighting for survival against the onslaught of an increasingly aggressive secular left – a secular left that cheered the Pope but will be happy to either coopt or crush his church at the first available opportunity.
Ben Shapiro is Senior Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News and The New York Times bestselling author, most recently, of the book, The People vs. Barack Obama: The Criminal Case Against The Obama Administration (Threshold Editions, June 10, 2014). Follow Ben Shapiro on Twitter @benshapiro.