5 ways the pope is making the right's collective head explode

It goes beyond his encyclical on climate change. Francis' entire papacy has been an affront to conservative values

Published June 25, 2015 8:00AM (EDT)

  (AP/Alessandra Tarantino)
(AP/Alessandra Tarantino)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet Pope Francis has been a surprise to many in the world in his aggressive push to re-orient the politics of the Vatican in a more progressive direction.

This has provoked an unusual backlash from conservatives in America, who have taken issue with the Pope's various stands, and are now in attack mode aginst teh head of the Catholic Church. Here are 5 ways the Pope is driving them crazy:

1. Embracing Climate Science:This fall, Pope Francis will speak before a session of Congress. He is largely expected to talk about one of the key issues that he has raised and Congress has virtually ignored: climate change. “This is science, not theology,” complained Rep. Steve King (R-IA). “I'm not a Catholic, but I've got a lot of friends who are, who are wondering: Why all of a sudden is he involved in this?” whined Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a climate denier.

2. Denouncing Greed And Inequality: Pope Francis's warnings about turbo capitalism have right-wing writers tearing their hair out. This week New York Times columnist David Brooks complained that “within a regulated market, greed can lead to entrepreneurship and economic innovation.” Brooks concludes that “Francis doesn't seem to have practical strategies for a fallen world.” In other words, if only the Pope was more pro-greed – a strange message for a faith built on selfless prophet.

3. Recognizing The Palestinians: Francis made an emotional visit to the Holy Land which included praying at a separation fence Israel had erected on Palestinian land. Under his leadership the Vatican has played a pro-active rolein recognizing Palestinian sovereignty, and of course all of this has made the right very angry. Former GOP congressman Allen West even called the Vatican anti-Semitic for the move.

4. Challenging Traditional Views On Marriage, Divorce, And Homosexuality: Francis has pushed the Church on its traditionalist views on marriage, divorce, and sexual orientation, looking for ways to include gay and divorced Catholics. Some within the Church have reacted harshly to this outreach, with Cardinal Raymond Burke saying that in “an age filled with confusion, as we see with gender theory, we need the teaching of the Church on marriage. Yet, we are on the contrary pushed towards a direction for the admission to communion of divorced and remarried persons.”

5.  Preaching Nonviolence: Francis this week denounced arms manufacturers, saying their behavior is un-Christian. This provoked a torrent of outrage from the right-wing base in America, which loves its guns. “And what, pray tell, do the Swiss Guards have as alternates to the large 'hatchets' they carry? Right! They have [a] stock of automatic weapons and an armory full of ammunition to protect Pope Francis,” wrote someone identifying themselves as Deacon Thomas Lawson on Ammoland.com “Let Pope Francis be the first to disarm before he advises others to do so! Even Saint Peter, the first 'pope,' carried a sword and cut off the ear of one of Jesus' captors when firearms were not invented yet!”

Perhaps the most common complaint is that Pope Francis is politicizing the Vatican. But lest the right forget, the Pope isn't just a religious leader but also a head of state, and has always engaged in politics – from engaging with Soviet dissidents to denouncing contraception. It's just that under Pope Francis, those politics are a bit more progressive than conservatives want.

By Zaid Jilani

Zaid Jilani is a Syracuse University graduate student and freelance writer. Follow him @zaidjilani.

MORE FROM Zaid Jilani

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Alternet Gay Marriage Israel Palestine The Pope