Rome—Pope Francis is going to the USA in September, and the Republicans who loved the long reign of John Paul II and Benedict XVI are all frazzled. For them, Francis might has well have 666 engraved on his forehead.
The list is long of stuff that GOP, which once followed every papal pronouncement with glee, dislike:
The Holy Father thinks climate change is a big problem. He doesn’t use the word “intrinsically disordered” to describe gays. And, by the way, it’s not necessary for Catholics to “breed like rabbits,” he said.
He rails against wild capitalism and pleads for the poor. Francis even suggested that the theory of evolution wasn’t inconsistent with the Biblical story of creation.
This is a far cry from the culture war, moral police rhetoric of Benedict who decried anything he thought smacked of “relativism.” Before he was pope, then-Cardinal Ratzinger wrote a letter to US bishops suggesting they not give Communion to politicians who voted for abortion rights–and he did so in the middle of Catholic John Kerry’s 2004 run for president. The US had gone from a country where a Catholic presidential candidate (Kennedy) had to prove he wasn’t too Catholic to one in which he had to prove he was–and the judge sat in Rome.
The pendulum has swung. GOP presidential candidates are pretty much writing off just about everything Francis says, in particular dismissing his climate change views, formalized in an encyclical. Neo-Conservative Catholics, once a fortress of Republican ideological support along with Evangelical Christians, also reject his stands, a reversal of their lockstep agreement when John Paul and Benedict reigned in the Holy See.
Expect Republican platitudes about respect for Pope, but plenty of murmuring under the breath about what a low down Commy he is.
Conservative Catholics want to take marbles and go home.
Tale of an older split between conservatives and papacy.