Red Pope/Green Pope

The itch they can’t scratch: Pope Francis

He gets under their skin like termites in a boathouse. Drives them crazier than Hillary Clinton and Yoko Ono dancing on a gay pride parade float. He’s the itch you can’t scratch. The thorn in the palm of their paw. The 3-inch scratch on their favorite Ted Nugent album. Talking about that hot new Catholic sensation, Pope Frankie.

At first it was his general commie pink yellow rat bastard predilection for focusing on the poor. “The poor. The poor. Why is it with him, always got to be about the goldarn poor.” But now the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio has issued an encyclical that claims humans are responsible for global warming. Did he not get the memo? Listen close and you can hear Mitch McConnell echo Henry II, “Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?”

An encyclical sounds like half an encyclopedia or what happens when a bicycle pushes the edge of the envelope, but in reality, it’s the farthest a Pope can go without playing the infallibility card. A distinct possibility when the Head of the Catholic Church is intent on making a stink. Being infallible is the Vatican’s superpower. But something the smart Big Miters save for when they really really need it. Infallibility is not something you whip out in line at the grocery store. Like truffles, a little bit goes a long way.

In his 180-page “Laudato Si,” or “Be Praised,” the 267th Bishop of Rome’s (give or take a few) initial solo effort at a treatise, Francis calls on Catholics to make safeguarding the environment and battling climate change a top priority and couches saving the planet in moral terms. Which the GOP sees as a threat to everything they stand for and akin to waving a red flag in front of bull, papal or otherwise.

This move into environmentalism has prompted some supporters to call him the Green Pope, but conservatives increasingly refer to him as Comrade Francis, the Red Pope. But hey, wasn’t there another Christian guy who focused on the problems of the poor? What was his name, oh yeah, Christ. Whatever happened to him?

The big dilemma is how to respond. You can’t dismiss the Pope as a tree-hugging hippie liberal. He’s the Pope. Difficult to attack a man that 16% of the planet considers the vocal chords of the Big Angry Daddy in the Sky. A lobbyist for Arch Coal did rebuke him for not endorsing fossil fuels as a solution to poverty. Seriously. You can’t make stuff up like this.

Catholic Rick Santorum objected to the papal paper, saying “we should leave the science to the scientists.” Unh-hunh. And then what, ignore them? Santorum is guy who doesn’t believe in evolution, and ironically, he is his own best argument. Then remember the Argentinian Pontiff is a chemist by trade and Santorum’s argument grows weaker than a lovesick songbird in Beijing.

But the Pope needs to be careful. If he doesn’t cool it with the focus on the least fortunate, the party that conducts rigorous experiments to guide camels through the eyes of needles will declare him Public Enemy #1. Easy to imagine Fox News blaming the Vatican for everything from illegal immigration, the death of Vince Foster and Benghazi.

Will Durst
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