David Horsey, of the Los Angeles Times, suffers from a serious case of Papalphilia, an unnatural obsession and attraction to the Pope. Horsey said Pope Francis is a much better voice for Christianity than Kim Davis--not that he was setting the bar very high in this contest.
Horsey is rightly unimpressed by the antics of Davis and the Christian Right's war on liberty in America, but Francis is no walk in the park either.
It gets really messy when we read reports in the media of the Pope going out of his way to meet Kim Davis, hug her, and tell her she had his support.
Inside the Vatican reports Francis said "Thank you for your courage," to Davis and "Stay strong." He gave her a rosary after they hugged. The report says, "Vatican sources have confirmed to me that this meeting did occur; the occurrence of this meeting is not in doubt."
Not long after the meeting, the Pope was asked about government employees refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples and he endorsed the action. The Pope claimed government employees may refuse to fill their job requirements when it comes to gay applicants. He said, "Conscientious objection... is a right." Would he say the same thing if a clerk refused marriage licenses to "anti-Christ Catholics" or interracial couples?
If, as Mr. Horsey said, Kim Davis is such a bad voice for Christianity because of her anti-gay prejudice, as exhibited by her refusal to issue marriage licenses, then exactly how is the Pope such a better voice when he endorses those very same actions?
Horsey writes that it's wonderful the Pope isn't "pitching the idea that having abundant wealth is a sign of God's favor." Well, that's true. Instead he seems to see wealth as a sin and poverty as a virtue. While poverty is no virtue, wealth is no sin. Both ideas are nonsense. The Pope is as much against markets and prosperity as he is against gays.
Horsey likes that side of Francis: "'We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptive methods,' Francis has said. He wants to have a different conversation about bigger things. That includes talking about the excesses of capitalism, the ravages of climate change, the plight of refugees and the persistence of global poverty and social inequity. Exactly like Jesus, Francis speaks most often about the poor and the duty of Christians to work and sacrifice on their behalf."
There is virtually no area where Pope Francis actually thinks people ought to be free. He supports Big Brother when it comes to gay rights, abortion, censorship and other social issues, but also embraces his inner-autocrat when it comes to economics.
Francis is trapped in medieval Catholicism. When he says he has only spoken Catholic social teaching, he is correct. The problem is Catholic social teaching is horribly wrong -- on just about everything. In Religion, Economics and Social Thought, Catholic historian Stepehn Tonsor wrote "the Vatican didn't shift to the Left, It's rather a shift to the past. It's medievalism all over again. Except it is medievalism with a 'human,' or at least a different face. It is a perennial Catholic pre-capitalist social theory. And it has not the remotest contact with social and economic reality as it exists at the present time."
What is true for Papal economic policy is just as true for Papal social policy -- it has not the remotest contact with reality as it actually exists. Francis is trapped with theories that helped spur on the Dark Ages. It was largely in reaction to Vatican policies that the economist Ludwig Mises said, "Any would-be destroyers of the modern social order could count on finding a champion in Christianity."
Mr. Horsey seems to believe the Pope's medieval economic views are somehow worthy of praise, while ignoring the fact he and Kim Davis share the medieval prejudices. If there is one thing the Pope hates, it is sin, and freedom apparently leads to sin. Certainly, if the poor are blessed because they are poor, he has embraced a view that will expand their numbers greatly, while simultaneously denying social freedoms as well.