Followed By Silence
Sweet. Inaccurate (technically) but sweet. In a daily Mass last week, Pope Francis stated
In ideologies there is not Jesus: in his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. Of every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought… For this reason Jesus said to them: ‘You have taken away the key of knowledge.’ The knowledge of Jesus is transformed into an ideological and also moralistic knowledge, because these close the door with many requirements. The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances of the Church of the people. But it is a serious illness, this of ideological Christians. It is an illness, but it is not new, eh?
Pope Francis did not specifically mention Christian right-wing ideology during the Mass, his past remarks suggest he was talking about that ideology most of all.
In September, Pope Francis attacked “savage capitalism” and took up the plight of the unemployed against a system that worships money. Earlier that month, the Pope also criticized conservative Catholics for focusing so much on abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception. And in July, Pope Francis put the brakes on hating gay people, saying that we shouldn’t judge or marginalize them.
Clearly, Pope Francis isn’t fond of the extreme ideals of the Christian Right. He supports helping the poor. He believes in economic fairness. He denounces hatred of gay people. He thinks the war against abortion and birth control has gone too far. Considering all of these things, it’s pretty obvious that Pope Francis was mostly talking to right-wing Christians on Thursday. Their ideological fanaticism has damaged religion. They have abandoned the true teachings of Jesus to pursue an extremist agenda.
Pope Francis, the blogger continues, has "just called them out for it. Cue right-wing rage in 3, 2, 1…"
But there has been no expression of right-wing rage. The Bully Party will attack the most vulnerable- whether by rhetoric or policy- but will not touch His Holiness. It might, after all, come under criticism for defending itself against a charge that it is suffering from a "serious illness."
In truth, it's not an illness; it's ideological extremism, selfish, cruel, and designed to appeal either to the fanatic popular base or to the donor base or both, whatever the impact upon real people. But the Pope's music, if not all of his lyrics, is spot-on. There has been scant criticism the past months of Pope Francis for his criticism of conservative sacred cows. Now that he has condemned the extremists as suffering from an illness, the right again is exposed as intimidated into remaining silent when confronted by the head of the largest religious denomination in the U.S.A.
We have seen this before. When Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled "you lie" at President Obama during a message of the latter before a joint session of Congress in September, 2009. As Democrats condemned Wilson, Rush Limbaugh and others hinted of dire consequences if Congress were to censure him. On September 16, the House voted a "resolution of disapproval" and there was little or no reaction from the right. That is how bullies roll.
Though not all the lyrics were accurate, the music from Pope Francis was picture-perfect. And it was a reminder that for the GOP, the message matters far less than its source.