Carroll County Times
Carroll County

Tom Zirpoli: Pope at odds with Republican ideology

It seems that Rush Limbaugh thinks he knows more about what it means to be a Christian than Pope Francis.
In response to the Pope's latest attempt to redirect the Catholic Church to focus on the fundamental teachings of Christ, especially regarding the poor, Limbaugh called the Pope's remarks, "pure Marxism," "wrong," "sad" and "unbelievable."
In his 50,000-word paper titled "The Joy of the Gospel" Pope Francis rails against trickle-down economics and the "idolatry of money." He writes that, "The culture of prosperity deadens us. We are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime, all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle. They fail to move us."
A lot of conservatives are finding the Pope's economic statements difficult to deal with because trickle-down economics is the foundation of their economic principles. Conservatives believe that if you just give more tax breaks to the rich, their additional spending will spur the economy and lift all boats. History and economic data, however, do not support the trickle-down theory. In fact, each additional tax break for the rich has simply widened the gap between the rich and poor in America.
Limbaugh misses the good old days when it would have been "unthinkable for a Pope to believe or say" such things. But the Catholic Church has been preaching about the need for Christians to care for the poor for centuries. The Pope is simply reinforcing a philosophy that comes right out of the Bible and the teachings of Christ Himself. Nothing new here.
Sarah Palin called the Pope's statements "liberal." Well, actually, this is quite an accurate observation on Palin's part. Christ was a liberal in his day. He was a threat to the establishment, especially to the rich and powerful, who did not want to hear about the plight of the poor. They crucified him because He was a threat to their power, their wealth and their way of life.
Is there is any doubt that if Christ came among us today and told us, again, to feed the poor, clothe the naked, house the homeless and care for the sick, that he would be called a "bleeding-heart liberal" or a "socialist" by conservatives?
Stuart Varney, of Fox News, criticized the Pope for wanting "to influence my politics."
Funny that Varney has never complained about the dozens of evangelical Christians who have lined up on his network to do exactly that: influence our politics. The difference, of course, is that the Pope is preaching the message of Christianity, not the message of conservative ideology.
It is difficult to imagine Christ working against the provision of health care for millions of uninsured Americans, immigration reform, a living wage or other "liberal" values, as Palin calls them. But if Palin wants to confuse Christian values with liberal values, that works for me.
I can't imagine Christ fighting for a $40 billion reduction in food stamps like Republicans in the House of Representatives are promoting in their most recent budget. The House does open each workday with a prayer, but these are just words. Their actions speak louder than their words.
Andrew Sullivan, of the Daily Beast blog, writes that "The Pope of the Catholic Church really is offering a rebuttal to the Pope of the Republican party, which is what Limbaugh has largely become. One has to wonder, asks Sullivan, if Limbaugh has ever read the Gospels or the parables. "Sorry, Rush," writes Sullivan, "but if you think this critique of capitalism is something dreamed up by the current Pope alone, you know nothing about Catholicism, nothing about John Paul II and nothing about Christianity."