Attacking the Pope
by: John Tyrrell
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Up through the 1970s, many of the evangelical and fundamentalist Protestant denominations were extremely anti-Catholic and even more anti-Pope. This seemed to change during the papacy of John Paul II, a very charismatic individual whose very conservative views apparently made him more acceptable to the fundamentalists. In the same period, these formally anti-Catholic denominations bought increasingly into the anti-reproductive rights message of the Catholic Church.
Under the equally conservative Benedict XVI, the anti-Catholic rhetoric remained stilled. Only the most extreme fringes of fundamentalism in non-denominational churches retained their antipathy to Catholicism, and their voices were mostly unheard.
Over the past couple of days, during Pope Francis' visit to the USA, I have noticed a sudden outpouring of vitriol against him in comments and memes circulated on social media.
The pope is leaving the White house, no doubt discussing with Obama how to help push a global socialist agenda.REMEMBER PEOPLE HE IS JUST A FALLIBLE MAN WITH A POLITICAL AGENDA. HE IS NOT YOUR HOLY LOVING FATHER THAT TITLE IS FOR GOD AND GOD ALONE. HE IS NOTGODS VOICE ON EARTH. THAT TITLE GOES TO OUR ONE AND ONLY MEDIATOR TO GOD, THE WORD MADE FLESH, JESUS CHRIST. Pay attention to what is really going on and do not be deceived.
He needs to hand those reigns back to God and stop pretending that he's a god!
What is the point of this sudden attack on the Pope? Superficially, it looks like a simple attack on Catholic practices and beliefs. But I suggest it is something more than that - it is an attack on his moral authority. Those posting this material are unhappy with the Pope's position on climate change, very unhappy with his position on personal weapons, unhappy with the minimal softening he has shown on gay rights, and unhappy with his views on capitalism.
To their minds, he has betrayed the ideological conservatism of his two predecessors.
How much easier it is for them to return to a strident anti-Catholicism and totally reject his authority to make any statement at all than it is to actually argue the issues that they disagree with.
But trying to undermine the Pope's religious authority does nothing to change the facts on the ground.
The scientific facts about climate change do not go away if the Pope does not have authority to comment
The balance of individual rights to own weapons, and whether or not such rights cause increased or lessened danger remains unchanged even if the Pope has no authority to comment.
The arguments for and against equal rights regardless of sexual orientation do not change even if the Pope has no authority to comment.
The balance between arguments for capitalism and socialism and positions in between do not change even if the Pope has no authority to comment.
Attacking the man is not really the way to attack the positions he takes. Nor does building him up validate the positions he takes.
If we consider him wrong on an issue, then we can make our case based on that issue - not by making the irrelevant and fallacious argument that he thinks he's god.
If we consider he is right on an issue, then we can make a case that he's right based on the facts of the issue - and we don't have to accept it just because of his authority.
Shooting the messenger does not destroy the message.
Are we going to see more American fundamentalists taking an anti-Catholic position in coming months and years, returning the the 1950s and 1960s? I suspect we will if Pope Francis remains in office for several more years. He's just not conservative enough for them.
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