Whatever his core political beliefs might be, and how they were shaped by his upbringing, Pope Francis has clearly been intent on making the Catholic Church more acceptable to the Left. He has a knack for making statements that set left-wing hearts aflutter, even though what he really said often turns out to be considerably less liberal than breathless news reports led readers to believe, particularly when his original statement was not made in English.
In addition to its spiritual aspect, the papacy is a political position, and the Pope is one of his Church’s great emissaries to the world. I find myself profoundly disagreeing with this Pope on several important topics, but concede that a marketing strategy designed to make Catholicism seem compatible with the dominant media ideology of the Western world is not illogical. Rarely has a prominent figure racked up so many Strange New Respect notices so quickly. Just a few years into his papacy, he’s been hailed as an epochal, transformational leader by the mainstream media, applauded by even militant atheists who normally talk about the Church as a global menace.
Pope Francis has, however, underestimated the Left. He made overtures to them, but they demand complete submission to the Church of the State. They have no difficulty whatsoever cherry-picking and applauding statements from the Pope they find useful, and discarding the rest.
The Left is anxious to demonstrate the supremacy of the Church of the State above all other faiths, even those attempting to negotiate an alliance with it. This is why President Obama went out of his way to assemble the sort of guest list for a papal event that he would never dream of imposing on the ayatollah of Iran, or any other tough foreign dictator.
“Even when hosting the most ideologically sympathetic pontiff in his lifetime (climate change, Cuba), Mr. Obama cannot restrain himself,” marveled columnist Mona Charen. “He cannot be civil and respectful, searching for common ground. No, he must include on the official guest list of those greeting the Pope at the White House, a transgender activist, an openly gay Episcopal bishop, and a nun who supported Obamacare despite its funding of abortion and contraception. We’ve become a little inured to this president’s staggering insensitivity and passive aggression over the years. But in this case, you’d have to remove the ‘passive’ part. This is an embarrassing moment for our country.”
There’s really nothing surprising about this. It’s pure Saul Alinsky.
The Pope’s overtures smell like weakness to the rabid Left. As long as he keeps talking about global warming and supporting Obama foreign policy disasters like Cuba, the Pontiff is giving liberals everything they want for free. He’s demanding no price for his service, so he will be paid nothing. An Alinskyite like Obama still sees even the “Red Pope” as a dangerous symbol of the old order he seeks to overthrow – an ideological threat to the Left who has a strong and despised following in the Western world. The Pope is still part of the “Religious Right” to an Alinskyite, no matter how far left any particular Pope might lean… unless that Pope makes the final gestures of submission and abandons Catholic doctrines that run contrary to the Church of the State’s teachings, especially opposition to abortion.
Pope Francis evidently hoped he could entice liberals to read his latest encyclical by endorsing the wildest sort of environmentalist extremism, and strongly linking it to the Church’s pro-life position. He clearly stated it would be wrong to accept what he says about “climate change” without also accepting his defense of human life. How’s that working out for him? If he grew up in a left-wing political environment, he should have known how easy it would be for liberals to take what they wanted from his writings and discard the rest. The Left has no principle but power, which they will do and say anything to obtain.
The pro-life position is an explicit repudiation of temporal power. It makes adult humans with the power of life and death subservient to an unborn child who has no power at all. It imposes responsibility upon prospective parents before the child has even been conceived. This relationship is not transactional – there is no way to make a child feel obligated to vote for those who saved her from abortion two decades later. Of course the Left hates it.
“Congressional leaders should invite representatives of oppressed Christians from around the world to answer” Obama’s “crude insult” to the Pope. Why isn’t the Vatican doing that? Christian communities in the Middle East are being exterminated as we speak. Islamist groups are torturing them to death, or into forced conversions to Islam. Christians who aren’t killed or enslaved are being driven from homes they have occupied for the better part of two thousand years. Why isn’t the Pope wholly focused on this existential crisis of both humanity and Christianity, instead of wading into the fever swamps of politicized science to hold forth on global warming?
Why is the Pope constantly assailing capitalism and industry, when they have done more than any other force in human history to alleviate poverty? If he thinks these stances will curry favor with the fashionably anti-capitalist Left, by appealing to what he sees as mutual concern for the plight of the poor, he’s underestimating the depth of their hypocrisy.
The poor are instruments to the hard Left, and it has no interest whatsoever in eliminating poverty, which is a source of enormous political influence for it. It’s no coincidence that poverty and “income inequality” get worse under left-wing administration. It’s not merely because they are inept and don’t understand how wealth creation works. It’s because they act aggressively to sabotage economic forces that would lift people out of poverty, give them productive roles in the economy, and make the independent middle class larger. Leftists hate the “independent” part of that equation.
Why is the Pope embracing Fidel Castro, instead of looking evil in the eye and calling by its proper name? The Castros have been the brutal warden of a dungeon state for decades, oppressing and impoverishing his own people while piling up treasure in his private accounts – rather like the caricature so many Castro-worshipping liberals paint of other rich people, come to think of it. Fidel Castro also came very close to murdering a significant portion of the human race by starting a nuclear war.
The Pope is following the spirit of the moment and trying to establish a “dialogue,” while Castro blocks dissidents from meeting with the Pope. Everyone who thinks “engagement” can melt away dictatorship, despite decades of evidence to the contrary around the world, had better understand that modern tyrants have mastered the art of protecting their squalid ideologies from sustained contact with more classically liberal governments and religions. They know how to trump persuasion with brute force.
That’s really what the Left is all about, including the American variety, and it’s the major reason this Pope’s outreach to the Left is doomed. They all think power trumps persuasion. The American liberal stopped being interested in persuasion a long time ago. All of their gains are accomplished through exercises of force: a despotic President asserting vast new powers, mass migration imposed through executive order, bills like ObamaCare rammed through Congress during brief windows of opportunity, judicial fiat erasing the will of voters, slanted media controlling the public through deception…
Yes, deception is force, because fraud is theft. It’s not just ironically amusing that the American media has become so dedicated to suppressing news that runs counter to the Left’s agenda, such as the Planned Parenthood videos. It’s another deployment of force against a dominated populace. The Pope should be a voice of truth attacking this dishonest ideology with every breath, not negotiating with it.
Indulging liberalism, including abortion extremism, is not new for the Catholic Church, unfortunately. None of the whack jobs who treat abortion as a holy sacrament in their Church of the State should be allowed to call themselves Catholic. This process of accommodation has begun to look a lot like outright surrender.
Maybe the Vatican is worried that the Supreme Court’s gay-marriage fiat will be used to crush religion, as so many on the hard Left have spoken eagerly of doing. It’s unlikely that peaceful coexistence can be negotiated with an aggressive ideology through anything less that total capitulation. Pope Francis will find all his Strange New Respect awards burned away like flash paper as soon as he stands firmly upon ground the Left desires. Until then, he is likely to find the number of converts he wins by reaching out to the Left unsatisfactory.