The Francis factor: Pope’s economic i...

The Francis factor: Pope’s economic ideas rattle GOP

Posted in the Minneapolis Forum

Christmas Hope

Saint Louis, MO

#1 Dec 25, 2013
He draws crowds like a rock star, was named “Person of the Year” by Time as well as a gay rights magazine, and drew the ire of Rush Limbaugh for his criticism of “trickle-down” economics. Pope Francis has dramatically shifted the message and tone of the Vatican in the last nine months, and he’s forcing Republicans in Washington to reassess their relationship with the Catholic church.

For years, Catholic leaders’ staunch and very public opposition to abortion, gay marriage and the contraception-related provisions of Obamacare made them natural allies for the GOP. But Francis has scrambled the equation by de-emphasizing hot-button social issues, warning against unchecked capitalism and pushing a populist message at odds with the core of the anti-spending, anti-big government Republican Party.

It’s unclear whether Francis’s proclamations will fray the ties between the right and the Vatican, but already some conservatives have sharply criticized his economic ideas. At the same time, some on the right have expressed admiration for the 77-year-old pope’s more inclusive approach, including on subjects such as homosexuality. Their praise comes as the GOP itself grapples with growing disenchantment among young people and other demographics for its strident tone on social issues.

“His economic perspective I’m not particularly enamored with, but his advocacy for the poor, his lifestyle example, his more modern outlook on social issues — I’ve been very impressed,” said Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Republican.

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