COMMENTARY | Both Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh have criticized Pope Francis for statements that have been decidedly anti-capitalistic. Reza Aslan, a liberal Muslim scholar, suggests that thus they wouldn’t much care for Jesus Christ either.
Aslan’s idea is that Jesus was a Marxist before Karl Marx who preached how the needs of the poor should be taken care of and that the rich should be despoiled of their wealth. Never mind that Jesus was preaching about personal charity and not the need to create a social welfare state. The kingdom that Jesus described was in heaven and not on Earth, something that was misunderstood even by some of his contemporaries.
Charles Krauthammer, on the other hand, has a somewhat more nuanced view of the pope’s pronouncements. “I mean, look, this is a traditional position of the church. There are arguments inside of the church, there are Catholic intellectuals who write in defense of capitalism. But he’s from that tradition of the social gospel. And it is the original message to clothe the naked and to feed the hungry.” Krauthammer went on to decry how Pope Francis has set back the movement within the church that suggests that capitalism actually allows for the advancement of individuals that a socialist welfare state cannot possibly achieve.
Liberals like Aslan tend to like the Catholic Church when it advances agendas that they believe in. It was the same way in the 1980s when Catholic bishops campaigned for nuclear disarmament. But they tend to be uncomfortable when the church advances other doctrines, such as the need to ban abortions and birth control.
Krauthammer suggested a little tongue in cheek that the pope is behaving less of a Christian and more as an American style liberal Democrat and should move to America and run for office. In any case, the leader of any religious faith prospers more when they advance the cause of personal faith and morality and when they leave politics alone.