By Uche Oyenbadi
Pope Francis is Time Magazine’s 2013 Man of the Year. But to the vocal acolytes of the conservative creed in America, the man of God from Argentina is no more than another Fidel Castro dressed up in holy robes. Yes. Less than 24 hours after Time Magazine made the announcement, the far right quickly unleashed their tirade against the pope.
One of the high priests of this conservative movement, Rush Limbaugh, was quick to use his talk-radio programme to criticize Time Magazine’s choice. The same man had used the same forum to castigate Pope Francis for asking world leaders to think about helping the poor and the needy.
Rush told his audience on Wednesday (Dec. 11) that “This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope.” He did not stop there, but added that: “You know the pope, Pope Francis has issued an official papal proclamation, and it’s sad…..It’s actually unbelievable. It’s sad because this pope makes it very clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to capitalism and socialism and so forth.”
Another right-winger, Adam Shaw, who is also a news editor with FoxNews.com, did not mince words when he ridiculed Pope Francis in his article. He characterized the pope as the Obama of the Catholic Church and accused the pontiff as someone who “the faithful for the enemy, the enemy for his friend, condescension for respect, socialism for justice and capitalism for tyranny.”
Why these vitriolic attacks on the Pope? Simple. Pope Francis, unlike some of his predecessors, has come out boldly on the side of the downtrodden, the poor, the marginalized, the neglected, and people who suffer from all forms of discrimination.
This is how Time Magazine’s International Editor Bobby Ghosh described Pope Francis: “He’s changed perceptions of the church from being this out-of-touch institution to one that is humble and merciful.” Ghosh further said that “He’s changed the focus of the church from being focused on doctrine to becoming more about service.
And he’s changed the tone in which the church speaks to one of compassion. It’s all about the poor. This is the church as it used to be in its — arguably its best period in the past. And Francis seems to be bringing that back.”
Attacking Pope Francis is mere subterfuge. The real enemy of the American conservative movement, and its Republican Party/Tea Party front-men, is anything that will challenge the wealthy and powerful in society; anything that will bring any form of social and economic justice; anything that will lift people above the threshold of poverty.
It is unbelievable that some people believe that poor people should remain buried in poverty. Why do these people oppose an idea like Obamacare? They just don’t want over 40 million people in America to have access to any form of health insurance, because Obamacare’s ultimate objective is to make health insurance AFFORDABLE.
Doing that will undercut the excessive profit margins of this wealthy, business class. Various studies in the USA have demonstrated that the most potent cause of personal bankruptcy is being sick and having to get medical attention. Prior to Obamacare, insurance companies dictated how much attention you would get from your doctor.
You pay all your insurance premiums but when you need medical attention, the insurance companies will find a reason to drop you from their coverage – unless you were willing to practically sell everything you own and go into debt in order to meet their financial demands. And since this is about your health, what options do you really have?
The same beggar-thy-neighbour-for-profit reasons motivated the Republican/Tea Party members to shut down the USA government ostensibly because they wanted to curtail government’s expenditure and kill off Obamacare. They did not care that millions of people in government employment temporarily lost their means of livelihood. Neither did it matter to them that their so-called cost-saving measure eventually cost the US economy an estimated $26 billion.
Today, several low-income wage earners in America are agitating for an increase in the national minimum wage from the present $7.5 an hour. President Obama has called for the figure to be pegged at $10. But, no. The Republicans/Tea Party/Conservative movement will not budge. They contend that it increasing the minimum wage is bad for business to thrive. But, it is good for business not to pay hard-working people something that looks like a decent wage. By the way, even with $10 and hour, most of those workers will still need to have two or more jobs in order to pay their basic bills.
How about unemployment benefits and assistance to the jobless? No. The same clique of wealthy people does not want it. They enact laws to cut what they call subsidies to the poor, yet they gleefully grant farming subsidies that benefit their lucrative farming industry.
Their philosophy appears to be that the poor should always remain poor. And they are the same people who oppose immigration reforms or anything that will benefit the struggling people in America. And such people are in millions, with recent studies that indicate that one in six Americans go hungry due to lack of food in a country that is awash with wealth.
Pope Francis’ ‘sin’ is to have called attention to the misery of the poor people around the globe. The Republicans/Tea Party/Conservatives do not like such reminders that the world does not belong to them alone. While not specifically referring to them, the pope appears to have pricked their nerves and they are in the mood to fight back.
They are patently afraid of the consequences of Pope Francis using his moral authority to query their avarice and inhumanity.
But the huge irony is that these people who have little or no sympathy for the plight of the poor call themselves Christians and blasphemously invoke the name of God and the bible each time you hear them say something.
This anti Pope Francis attack by the conservatives has little to do with the pope as a person. It is all about protecting their wealth. My imagination informs me that when these rich-but-kill-the-poor-people die and attempt to get to the gates of heaven, if they actually get there, the arch-angels in charge of the gates will simply refer them to the parable of the rich man and poor Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).