Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter's Square for a meeting with the Roman Diocesans on June 14, 2015 in Vatican City, Vatican. 
Photo by Franco Origlia/Getty

Let Me Finish: Pope Francis vs. the Conservatives

Let me finish with this.  It’s no surprise that people hearken most to the leader of the Roman Catholic Church when they share his values on the subject at hand.

Conservatives rarely cite the word from Rome on matters ranging from war to capital punishment. “Thou shalt not kill” is rarely the commandment of reference where these two topics stand high on the U.S. agenda. We execute killers. We go to war, even the most dubious, hearing no one on the right crying out at the immorality of the decisions.

Religion, it seems, is dismissed as a reference point, when it gets between a conservative and his politics, as it now does on the question of climate change and the coming call from Pope Francis to act on its man-made causes.

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Progressives take a somewhat different tack when the moral question posed by the church stands in the way of individual freedom as perceived by the U.S. Supreme Court. Here, the most common approach is to admit to the Church’s moral teaching authority to argue that in a free society government has its limits.

What is inconsistent is to argue the need to protect life in the case of human reproductive decisions and to deny it when it achieves planetary scale. If it’s important to save the life of the fertilized human egg how much more important it is to protect the ability of this planet to protect human life itself. Here Pope Francis is perfectly consistent and his right-wing critics, including Republican presidential candidates, are damnably not.