An article published in July by two close associates of Pope Francis in a Vatican-vetted Jesuit journal, La Civiltà Cattolica, has caused waves in the American Catholic Church. The article accuses ultraconservative Catholics — including White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon — of gradually forging a reactionary political alliance with evangelical Christians that's now supporting President Trump's agenda, including a "xenophobic and Islamophobic vision that wants walls and purifying deportations."
The Catholic right, already feeling under siege by Pope Francis, portrayed the July 13 article as a thinly veiled shot across the bow from the pope himself, and on Monday, leaders of Trump's evangelical advisory board requested a meeting with Francis to address "efforts to divide Catholics and Evangelicals." On Tuesday, an executive vice president and editor at Fox News, John Moody, jumped into the conversation. He began his op-ed by reporting that somebody brought a dog to mass last Sunday, drawing this conclusion: "Dogs may be going to church, but the universal Roman Catholic Church is going to the dogs." Then he got down to the meat of his displeasure:
Under Pope Francis, the church has abandoned many of its bedrock positions on issues like divorce and homosexuality in favor of a "why not?" attitude. Francis has scolded people for being rich, sided with illegal immigrants, and suggested the church should be a refuge for the poor.
He has sidelined conservative cardinals, installed like-minded allies in key jobs, taken personal control of the Knights of Malta for defying him, and generally sent the signal that behind his amiable smile and humble talk lurks a radically liberal agenda. [Moody, Fox News]
Pope Francis isn't much of a liberal, and his views on social issues like immigration, the environment, and aiding the poor don't really deviate from his more conservative predecessors, as The Week's Matthew Walther explains. (Nor do his views on abortion and gay marriage, for that matter.) And Catholic social teaching is drawn from the teachings of Jesus. Moody offers a warning to the pope anyway: "Francis can run the church any way he wants. But demonizing conservative American Catholics is a risky business. They have deep pockets and long memories." One more thing they share in common with elephants? You can read Moody's op-ed at Fox News.