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Culture, Science & Faith

Will Pope Francis Influence the GOP?

Pope Francis has embraced liberation theology and so-called climate change to the dismay of conservative Catholics.

Paul Albaugh · May 27, 2015

Recent news from Ireland suggests there is trouble looming ahead for American politics, specifically the GOP and Catholics in general. For the most part, Catholics have been advocates for the lives of the unborn and have been for the preservation of traditional marriage. However, under Pope Francis, what was once viewed as differences between right and wrong is now being portrayed as equality vs. inequality.

Last Friday, 62% of voters in Ireland cast their ballot in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage while only 38% voted against it. This may come as a surprise because the nation is predominantly Catholic. Yet on this issue, several bishops expressed concerns that there is a widening gap between the church and Irish culture and that the church needs a “new language” to reach out.

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, suggested “the last thing the Irish bishops should be doing is further alienating the young generation who the Church, to a fair degree has lost already.” Are the priests supposed to just not speak from scripture against homosexuality?

According to conservative blogger Rod Dreher, “normalizing homosexuality is so radically at odds with the clear teaching of the Bible, and two millennia of unbending Christian teaching, that should it happen in the Roman church at the fall Synod or at any time, the act will be a sign a for traditional Catholics that something has gone terribly wrong — and we will likely have a schism.”

What did Pope Francis have to say of the vote in Ireland? In the past he has spoken out against same-sex marriage, but on the other hand he recently appointed an outspoken, pro-gay English Dominican as a top advisor to the Vatican on peace and justice issues. But Francis has more pressing things on his mind for the church and ultimately for the world. Yet it’s not the orthodox view that many have been accustomed to; it’s a progressive view, and it puts a political agenda above all else.

Recently, it was made known that Pope Francis embraces liberation theology — a similar liberation theology spewed from the pulpit of Jeremiah Wright when Barak Obama was in attendance. Francis, who is seeking to revive the Catholic Church in Latin America, wants to create “a poor church for the poor.”

Francis has been an outspoken critic of capitalism since he became pope, viewing it as sinful and causing too much disparity and hunger throughout the world. His solution is “social justice,” meaning no more inequality, but equality for all. By embracing liberation theology, Francis wants the Catholic Church to be a driving force to bring about change. But his solution is socialism, if not pure Marxism, through the church.

In addition, Francis has made climate change a priority for the papacy. By the end of June, it is expected that he will release a new encyclical which is a teaching moment that many catholic organizations are looking forward to. Francis is going to address Congress on Sept. 24 and then the UN general assembly on Sept. 25, with climate change as the emphasis. Why? Because, according to the pope, climate change has caused much poverty and insecurity among the poor, and humanitarian suffering will continue if it is not addressed.

Let’s get this straight: On the one hand, we have the Pentagon declaring war on climate change, and now the pope is bent on rallying the Catholic Church to fight climate change as well. The Islamic State in the Middle East is still killing Christians, and this pope is more concerned about the changing climate? We doubt this will end well.

The pope has the ability to influence many people, but when he is more focused on a progressive political agenda than on spiritual matters there is reason to be a bit alarmed. In an already crowded field of GOP presidential contenders, several of whom identify with the Catholic faith, it is reasonable to question how recent developments within the Catholic Church will impact those individuals and their principles.

Given the pope’s recent pronouncements, several GOP presidential hopefuls will be faced with a dilemma. Do they distance themselves from Pope Francis and his progressive ideology, or do they stand by him? Since they know the pope’s stance on climate change, homosexual marriage, fighting poverty and other issues, it would be politically advantageous for them to dismiss the pope’s political opinions and focus instead on the conservative principles of American politics that work. But will they?

And what of the voter who is both Catholic and Republican? Sam Clovis, who is a Catholic and political activist in Iowa, predicts that as Pope Francis becomes more visible in American politics his fellow conservative Catholics will put party over church. He states, “Rather than being Catholic Republicans, they’re going to be Republicans first and Catholics second.” Hopefully his prediction is correct.

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