I knew things were getting bad with Catholics of various stripes on the ‘right’, when they started attacking Francis in the very early days of his papacy. The Latin Mass and neo-traditionalists began pretty much immediately, criticizing him for ignoring liturgical rubrics, though washing the feet of young prisoners, which provoked the first round, was so obviously an act of love. Francis puts people before ritual propriety, sort of like his Lord.
Then when he began speaking plainly of the evils of capitalism and the economic inequality that marks the Age of the Market those on the economic right began to respond, some dissembling and hemming and hawing, and spinning their own ‘hermeneutic of continuity’, others launching an offensive against the ‘communist’ pope.
The latest is a barrage of writing criticizing an encyclical that has not even been released, which is apparently about climate change and Christian ecology.
But I must say I am shocked to see First Things stoop to the level that it has, publishing one Maureen Mullarkey’s broadside against the pope. It reads like something one would find on a Fox News blog or a rabid traditionalist journal, full of invective and venom. I mean she begins, dating herself:
In the cap and bells of Flip Wilson’s Church of What’s Happening Now, Pope Francis is readying an encyclical on climate change. He will address the world’s latest mutation of the grail quest: human ecology. Abandoning nuance for apocalyptic alarmism (“If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us.”), Francis has signaled the tenor of his utterance.
She goes on to say that Francis is
… an ideologue and a meddlesome egoist. His clumsy intrusion into the Middle East and covert collusion with Obama over Cuba makes that clear. Megalomania sends him galloping into geopolitical—and now meteorological—thickets, sacralizing politics and bending theology to premature, intemperate policy endorsements.
This is the stuff of talk radio, not a respectable journal. First Things, for which I harbor little affection, always prided itself on its ‘moderation’ and intellectual tone. As an old foe of the neoconservatives and other friends of capitalism, I must say I am happy to see that Francis has provoked this sort of response, which I anyway always sensed was just below the surface, and which came to light in personal correspondence with Novak, Weigel and the Rev Neuhaus.
I have been heartened to see the Catholic apologists for capitalism confounded by this unexpected pope. I mean, they had all the money and connections, and were so close to victory.
But then God gave us Francis.
Here is the Mallarkey article: