Conservative Washington Post columnist George Will attacked Pope Francis in his most-recent column, writing that the pope's call to action on climate change and his criticisms of capitalism are “demonstrably false and deeply reactionary.”
Right-wing media have a long history of criticizing Pope Francis for espousing so-called “liberal” values. Fox's Andrew Napolitano recently called the pope a "Marxist" for blaming the unfolding European refugee crisis on global poverty. In July, Rush Limbaugh referred to Pope Francis as "a clown" when the pope criticized the dangers of what he called “unfettered capitalism.” Fox News has also aggressively attacked the pope for addressing climate change, suggesting that the pope was aligning himself with “extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution.” During a June 18 appearance on Fox's Special Report, George Will claimed that the pope's liberal worldview is the result of his relationship with a Latin American, “anti-capitalist” strand of Catholicism.
In a September 18 op-ed for The Washington Post, Will attacked what he called Pope Francis' “fact-free flamboyance,” falsely alleging that the pope's embrace of environmental science and dedication to alleviating global poverty reduced the church's relevance to modern society and would “devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak”:
Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert's indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak -- if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.
Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.” The Vatican's majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London's air (see Page 1 of Dickens's “Bleak House”) and other matters.
And the Earth is becoming “an immense pile of filth”? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet another U.N. Climate Change Conference -- the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes. In his June encyclical and elsewhere, Francis lectures about our responsibilities, but neglects the duty to be as intelligent as one can be.This man who says “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions” proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled, from imperiled plankton to air conditioning being among humanity's “harmful habits.” The church that thought it was settled science that Galileo was heretical should be attentive to all evidence.
Francis deplores “compulsive consumerism,” a sin to which the 1.3 billion persons without even electricity can only aspire. He leaves the Vatican to jet around praising subsistence farming, a romance best enjoyed from 30,000 feet above the realities that such farmers yearn to escape.
Secular people with anti-Catholic agendas drain his prestige, a dwindling asset, into promotion of policies inimical to the most vulnerable people and unrelated to what once was the papacy's very different salvific mission.
He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation's premises.