It's endlessly entertaining to observe the Republicans desperately flailing about Pope Francis' first visit to the United States. Take, for example, Indiana Sen. Dan Coats, who said of the Pontiff's recent statements on income inequality and the climate crisis, "I'm always concerned about those who are bringing spiritual messages that step too far over the line in terms of political issues." That's rich. Since when is the Republican Party opposed to crossing the streams and injecting religious into politics? Isn't that the party's whole thing now?
Fortunately for the GOP, there's one man who invariably makes the party look positively stoic by comparison. Enter conspiracy theorizing radio host Alex Jones who's never been shy about belching out googly-eyed rants about Pope Francis and the Catholic Church and has been doing so for years. Now, with the Pope arriving on American soil this week, Jones has amplified his efforts.
Before we get to his most ludicrous prediction about the Pope so far, made on his program on Wednesday, let's start at the beginning. Leave it to Jones to focus on a detail about the Pope that has nothing to do with anything relevant whatsoever. Jones began by criticizing the wall around the Vatican, while suggesting it's hypocritical to oppose a border fence.
He doesn't want us to have a border, but he lives behind 35 and 40 foot and 50 foot walls around the Vatican City. He's got a giant fortress filled with Swiss paramilitary guards. Hired mercenaries.
First, the walls surrounding Vatican City are in some places more than a thousand years old. I'm not sure how Pope Francis had anything to do with that. Furthermore, the age of the walls make them historical. If Jones' paranoiac listeners actually cracked a thick book during commercial breaks, they'd learn that Italy and the Vatican have routinely fought over sovereignty of the Vatican, at times making the walls necessary. Indeed, some popes who had no choice but to remain trapped within the Vatican were considered de facto prisoners there.
But this meme is nothing new, nor is it unique to Jones. Breitbart writer John Nolte went so far as to demand Pope Francis tear down the walls. Why? Once again, the American immigration issue. If the Pope is going to oppose a border fence, then he must entirely dismantle one of the most iconic historical features of the Vatican. Because it's always about us, isn't it.
Jones continued his Wednesday rant:
The Vatican is rumored to have hundreds of trillions of dollars of assets. They admittedly own more property than anybody in the world.
No, that's a lie. The Vatican owns roughly 177 million acres of land worldwide, including Vatican City, its embassies and other properties. No one denies that. But King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia owns more land, and the biggest property-owner in the world is Queen Elizabeth II. Great Britain's land holdings dwarf the Vatican's by billions, owning around 6.6 billion acres. Yet more evidence that Jones' will say anything to rocket-boost the fear and victimization of his drooling disciples.
Jones said point-blank that the Vatican's holdings are about "training us to be abject slaves." I'm not clear on how that'd work, and Jones didn't elaborate. I suppose he doesn't need to offer up evidence when his listeners believe everything he says, regardless of the facts.
He went on to gripe that in some places, the Vatican walls are 100 feet tall, and that they're "tax exempt." But the Vatican is a sovereign state, and not subject to Italy's tax code. Sure, the Catholic Church's operations inside the U.S. are tax exempt, but so is every other religious entity. And either way, whether they should pay taxes has nothing to do with the Vatican walls.
And no, we haven't even arrived at the really crazy part, where Jones insists that Francis's calls for climate justice will result in widespread catastrophe:
"He's calling for one-world religion. Oh my gosh. If he gets his way, a billion people will starve to death in the next 10 years. I mean, it's just a death sentence to the third world. But everyone says we must bask in his glow. I'm gonna vomit."
The one world religion thing Jone references goes back ages, and has a very specific, and American, provenance: It's just a tired old anti-Catholic conspiracy theory suggesting that American sovereignty will be usurped by the Pope and the Catholic Church. More recently, crackpots like Jones latched onto this quote by Pope Francis as evidence of his complicity in this (fake) conspiracy:
"All of us are called (by God) to be free, all are called to be sons and daughters, and each, according to his or her own responsibilities, is called to combat modern forms of enslavement. From every people, culture and religion, let us join our forces."
Obviously, the Pope was talking about various religions working together to stop human trafficking. He wasn't proposing one religion, but a cooperative effort. Again, it's unclear why Jones is opposed to weeding out human trafficking.
And finally, yes, Jones really believes that "a billion people" in the third world will die because of the Pope's opinion that -- what? -- we should slow the onset of flooding and weather phenomenon precipitated by the climate crisis? Anyone who's read the Pope's encyclical knows that he wants to prevent the third world from being consumed by global warming. Or maybe Jones thinks the Pope, like President Obama, owns weather weapons that control tornadoes and hurricane, allowing his holiness to guide the weather events toward population centers using "helicopters and small aircraft."
It wouldn't be shocking to hear Jones accuse the Pope of being a so-called shapeshifting lizard person from outer space, spreading chemtrails, fluoridated water and gay-inducing juice boxes throughout the world. This new theory is perfectly in line with everything Jones says about almost literally everyone outside of his InfoWars universe. Everyone who isn't sanctioned by Jones himself is obviously a plotter in the globalist conspiracy to rule the universe, including and especially Pope Francis who, for the first time in modern history, is trying to change the Catholic Church for the better, via humility, outreach and living by the actual word of that icky New Testament.